PERKINSTON — Jason Harrison is the new men's basketball coach at Mississippi Gulf Coast, arriving after more than a decade of success at Holmes Community College.
"I'm ecstatic and excited to embark on a new journey of leading a program," he said. "It hasn't hit me just yet, but when I get fully integrated it'll sink in. It's a surreal feeling. It's finally here."
Harrison helped lead Holmes to three straight MACJC North Division titles and two Region 23 championships. The 2014-15 team made it to the Elite 8 of the NJCAA Division I Tournament.
Holmes went 175-108 (.618) in his 11 years at the school, including winning nearly 72 percent of its games since 2014-15.
"We were very pleased with all the interest in the position," Athletic Director Steven Campbell said. "We knew going in that whoever got the job would have huge shoes to fill. There were a lot of people who were qualified, but everything came back to Jason Harrison. We're excited to give him the opportunity to lead the basketball program and we expect to continue the winning tradition with him leading it."
Harrison was instrumental in recruiting and developing Daryl Macon, MACJC Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016 who went on to star at Arkansas and is now with the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA. One player was named National Little Player of the Year, and Holmes had 20 All-MACJC, 11 All-Region 23 players and 11 All-Tournament selections. There were 26 players who signed Division I scholarships.
"I want to be aggressive," he said. "I want to play fast, and I want to play with confidence. We're going to work hard, put in the time and be prepared. We'll be prepared for each and every game, and we'll prepare the kids for life after basketball."
He will bring a program called B.A.S.I.C. (Basketball Players Studying In the Classroom) Training Program to Gulf Coast. It helped Holmes produce 16 players who received academic honors and 68 players and managers who earned associate degrees.
"I've put the work in, being an assistant coach in this league for 10 years," Harrison said. "I understand this league. I know what it takes to get a program up and running like Coach (Jason) Flanigan and I did at Holmes. We had a program that wasn't known nationally, and now it's respected across the country. I think I'm up for the challenge."
Harrison is a native of Little Rock, Ark., where he was Mr. Basketball for the state during his senior year at Parkview Arts and Science Magnet in 1998. The team won the state championship. He went on to play collegiately at Ole Miss, where he was named All-SEC in 2000 and 2001. Harrison finished his career as only the second player in school history to score 1,000 points and dish out 400 assists. A four-year letter winner, his teams won 86 games, which were the second-most in Ole Miss history at the time. He finished ranked third in steals (172) and assists (427), and fourth in free-throw percentage (82 percent) and 3-pointers made (136). Harrison was part of the SEC Legend class of 2017.
He graduated from Ole Miss with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in English. He has a master's degree in athletic administration from Belhaven. He started his coaching career with a pair of AAU teams while working as a district sales manager for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette from 2005-08.
Harrison is married to Shemeca N. Harrison, who is also a Little Rock native. They have three children: Jayce, 17, and twins Jacob and Skylar, 4.
He and his family are excited to get to Perkinston and begin a new chapter.
"I just want to thank everybody who thought highly enough of me to give me a shot to be a head coach," Harrison said. "I can't wait to get down there and get started."
For more information on MGCCC's 10 intercollegiate athletic teams, follow @MGCCCBulldogs on Twitter and MGCCCBulldogs on Facebook, and go to mgcccbulldogs.com.