One of Charleston Southern’s all-time greats is coming back to his alma mater. Arlon Harper, a 2015 CSU graduate and one of the most versatile players in Big South Conference history, is joining the program as an assistant coach, head coach Barclay Radebaugh announced Tuesday.
Radebaugh also announced that Rick Duckett, whose wealth of experience proved valuable in his first season at CSU, has been elevated to associate head coach.
Harper starred at CSU from 2011-15, powering the Bucs to 70 wins, two Big South regular season titles and two NIT berths while leaving his name all over the school’s record book. The College Park, Ga., native is CSU’s fifth all-time leading scorer and also ranks top-ten in steals (2nd), made field goals (T-6th) and made three-pointers (6th). Harper is one of only four players in league history with over 1,500 points, 450 rebounds, 250 assists and 225 steals.
After pursuing a professional playing career, Harper spent the last two years as an assistant coach at his high school alma mater, Woodward Academy. He helped lead Woodward to a division championship last season and was preparing for another campaign before getting a call from Radebaugh two weeks ago. The chance to return to CSU was too good to pass up.
“I feel like it’s the right time to come back and it’s a great opportunity that obviously not many guys in my situation (three years removed from graduating) get,” Harper said. “This team has a chance to be really good and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
CSU’s current young core reminds Harper of the nucleus he was part of as a player. Harper, Saah Nimley, Paul Gombwer and Cedrick Bowen teamed to form the second-winningest four-year class in program history.
“You can tell they’re really close-knit, they get along and they want to work,” Harper said. “I enjoyed watching those guys play from afar and I feel like I have the ability to come in, articulate what I know and help them take it to another level. I can’t wait to learn from Coach Radebaugh, Coach Duckett and Coach Butters and get to work.”
Radebaugh believes the addition of Harper will be invaluable for both current and future Bucs.
“We are really thrilled to add Arlon to our staff and he has prepared himself well for this opportunity,” Radebaugh said. “Arlon was a coach on the floor and played with amazing toughness and a great basketball IQ. He flat out knows how to play the game and is going to be able to impart that to our players.”
“He will be an effective recruiter and a tremendous positive influence on our guys,” Radebaugh continued. “We saw his outstanding character firsthand as a student-athlete and we know he will be a great representative of our basketball program and university.”
Harper earned a communications degree from CSU. He was tabbed to the All-Big South Freshman Team in 2011-12, the All-Big South Second Team in 2012-13 and the All-Big South Tournament Team in 2014, in addition to garnering honorable mention all-conference honors as a senior in 2014-15. Harper and Nimley are the third highest scoring four-year classmate combination in league history.
*Radebaugh on Rick Duckett’s promotion to associate head coach: “What Rick has done for our program in one year has been great to watch. His influence on our team defensively has been amazing. Rick is tremendous with our players, is an efficient recruiter and is one of the finest coaches I’ve been around. Having Rick is like having another head coach on our staff, which is so valuable. We’re very thankful for his contributions and it’s a pleasure to name him associate head coach.”