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Coppin State hires former Maryland star and WNBA player Laura Harper as women’s basketball coach

Maryland's Laura Harper (15) celebrates with teammates Jade Perry (center foreground) and Aurelie Noirez on the bench as the Terps pad their lead against the North Carolina during the Final Four on April 2, 2006.
Maryland's Laura Harper (15) celebrates with teammates Jade Perry (center foreground) and Aurelie Noirez on the bench as the Terps pad their lead against the North Carolina during the Final Four on April 2, 2006. (KARL MERTON FERRON/Baltimore Sun)

Coppin State named former Maryland star and WNBA player Laura Harper its women’s basketball coach on Monday.

Harper, a four-year standout with the Terps who was named the 2006 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player after leading the team to a national championship, most recently served as the head coach at Montverde Academy in Florida.

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“It is a dream come true to be named the new head women’s basketball coach at Coppin State University,” Harper said in a news release. “I am very thankful for the special opportunity that President Jenkins, Mr. Carter, Mrs. Person and Mrs. Carrington-Johnson have granted me. Having a platform as a woman of color, while coaching at an HBCU during this racially sensitive time in our country, inspires me, and I am beyond ready to help lead this group of committed, young women into a new era of Eagles basketball.”

Harper replaces four-year coach DeWayne Burroughs, whose contract wasn’t renewed in March.

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“We are excited for Laura Harper to be joining the Coppin State family and look forward to her leadership during the next exciting phase of Eagles women’s basketball,” athletic director Derek Carter said. “Laura will bring incredible passion, energy, and a championship mentality to our team. Throughout her career, she has worked hard to establish herself as a winner in all phases of basketball. I feel that she will provide a valuable influence in the lives of the young women in our program.”

Harper guided Montverde Academy to an 18-6 record this past season and helped all five of her seniors earn NCAA Division I scholarships. Previously, she was assistant for the Florida women’s basketball team for two seasons. Harper spent the 2016-17 season at George Washington under Hall of Famer Jennifer Rizzotti. That season, the Colonials won an Atlantic 10 regular-season championship and advanced to the WNIT. She also served as an assistant for two seasons at High Point.

Harper got her start in coaching as an assistant at Loyola Maryland during the 2013-14 campaign, during which she was responsible for post player development and scouting and served as an academic liaison for the Greyhounds.

At Maryland, she was part of two teams that advanced to the Elite Eight, a 2007 Naismith Award finalist and a two-time Naismith Award preseason candidate. As a senior, she was a third-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honoree and Associated Press honorable mention All-American. Harper still owns the Maryland record with 198 blocked shots while scoring 1,407 points and ranked seventh in rebounds upon graduation. In 2009, Harper’s No. 15 jersey was raised to the rafters at the Xfinity Center.

“Coppin State is getting one of the most passionate people we’ve ever had in our program. I am thrilled for her and for our local community, " Maryland women’s basketball coach Brenda Frese said. “She will be great for the players at Coppin, because she fully understands what it takes to be successful. Laura is a fun person who makes friends easily. We had a great player-coach relationship at Maryland and I think she will model that. She’s also well connected in both our area and Philadelphia, which should serve her well in building the program. A lot of people will want to help her be successful. I’m excited to see them play and see her take this next step.”

After her college career, Harper was the 10th overall selection of the Sacramento Monarchs in the 2008 WNBA draft. As a rookie, she played in 34 games and averaged 5.5 points and 4.0 rebounds before starting in 11 games the following season. Harper also played professionally overseas in Turkey, Italy and Russia.

Harper joins men’s basketball coach Juan Dixon, the 2002 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player during the Terps’ men’s team’s run to the title, at Coppin State.

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