May 20, 2004
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina head women's basketball coach Kellie Harper did not have to look far to fill two of the positions on her staff as her husband Jon Harper and former Catamount assistant Stephanie McCormick have joined the WCU staff for the 2004-05 season.
"The Western Carolina program is very fortunate to have these two coaches on board," Kellie Harper said. "First and foremost, they are great people and will work hard to better the Lady Catamount basketball program. Their knowledge of the game allows them to be effective teachers on the court."
Harper comes to Western Carolina from Chattanooga with his wife Kellie and will have recruiting responsibilities as well as other day-to-day and on-court duties.
Through three full seasons with the Lady Mocs, Harper injected terrific work habits and a knowledge of the game that paid big dividends for UTC. While helping develop Chattanooga's post players, the Lady Mocs have consistently been ranked among the league's best rebounding teams and UTC's interior players all had superb offensive seasons in 2001-02 and 2002-03. During that time, Harper coached 2003 SoCon Athlete of the Year and Academic All-American Jennifer Wilson, one of the most decorated players in Chattanooga history. In addition to his work with post players, he also did extensive work with tape exchange, team travel, preseason conditioning and academic enhancement. With Harper on board, the Lady Mocs won three consecutive Southern Conference regular-season championships as well as three straight SoCon Tournament titles.
Harper got the coaching bug while serving as a manager for the Auburn Lady Tigers for three seasons, and he worked his way up to numerous administrative responsibilities with the team.
"This is what I've always wanted to do," Jon Harper said. "You just want to get your foot in the door, but I feel like I did a whole lot more than that at Chattanooga."
While working with the Lady Tigers for three seasons, Auburn compiled a 58-29 record that included the 1997 SEC Championship in Chattanooga and a pair of NCAA Tournament berths in 1997 and 1999. Jon's first experience was with the 1995-96 Lady Tigers as part of a men's basketball team that scrimmaged the Lady Tigers. Later on in that season, he traveled with the team to the SEC and NCAA Tournaments where Auburn made it to the Elite Eight.
Harper joined the team as manager starting with the 1996-97 team and worked up to head manager in 1998-99. In 1998-99, Harper was charged with increasing responsibilities that included overseeing the men's team that scrimmaged the Lady Tigers and he eventually served an internship with the coaching staff.
Harper earned his bachelor's degree in Health Promotion/Sports Management in March of 1999 and in May of that year married the former Kellie Jolly, who was a member of the Lady Tigers' coaching staff. After receiving his degree, Harper taught physical education and was an assistant football coach at Lee-Scott Academy in Auburn. He then moved into private business before joining the UTC staff along with Kellie.
"Jon's rapport with the players will be invaluable," Kellie Harper said. "His experience in the SoCon and familiarity with those opponents will greatly benefit this program."
McCormick returns to Cullowhee after spending one season as a member of the Georgia Tech women's basketball staff. With Western, she will be the recruiting coordinator for the program and be focused on the development of the Catamount post players, which were her duties with the Yellow Jackets as well.
Prior to her stint at Georgia Tech, she served as an assistant coach at UNC Charlotte, working with the 49er's post players and assisting with both recruiting and scouting. In 2003, she helped lead the team to the Conference USA regular season title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Prior to joining the staff at Charlotte, McCormick was the associate head coach at UNC Wilmington from 1999-2001, after being an assistant coach with the program in 1998. During the 2000 campaign, she helped lead the Seahawks to an 18-12 record, the most wins for the program since 1988.
McCormick began her coaching career in 1995 at Western Carolina, spending three seasons with the Catamounts. As Western's top recruiter, she signed a pair of All-Southern Conference post players in Karen Mason and LaSha Jackson, both of whom earned second team honors in 1997.
A native of High Point, N.C., McCormick starred for four years at Catawba College, where she was the first player in school history to finish their career with over 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. She finished her four years averaging 10.7 points and 10.6 rebounds and still holds the school record for career (1,244) and single-season (374) rebounding totals. McCormick earned All-South Atlantic Conference and All-District honors as a junior in 1993. She graduated in 1994 from Catawba with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration.
"Stephanie has established herself as an outstanding recruiter," Kellie Harper said. "She is especially familiar with North Carolina and the Southeastern region. She has signed nationally ranked classes and we believe she will continue that success here at Western."