St. Vincent basketball coach inducted to school’s hall of fame
St. Vincent men’s basketball coach Don Paul “D.P.” Harris admitted he was surprised to learn he was one of the 10 inductees in the school’s 2014 athletic hall of fame class.
“I have always thought of being named to a hall of fame as an honor for older people,” the North Huntingdon resident said. “But it was really humbling. I have been here for 20 years and I think the induction says more about the players who have come through St. Vincent. It is more of an award for them than it is me.”
Harris has been the coach at St. Vincent for 11 years and has won more than 200 games. The Bearcats have had only one losing season under Harris.
During his time as head coach, Harris has guided St. Vincent to seven national tournaments, with two Elite Eights. The Bearcats have competed in eight conference championship games during his coaching tenure.
“I think I found a diamond in the rough,” Harris said. “I grew as a coach here and my family is here. Some other opportunities have been available but I found the right place for me.
“It was a perfect match.”
Harris helped the Bearcats transition from NAIA to NCAA Division III and the Presidents Athletic Conference in 2007.
“A lot of small schools don’t get to travel and get on an airplane,” Harris said. “We try to provide as much of a Division I experience as we can at St. Vincent. We have gone to Florida, California and Las Vegas in the past to play. We are fortunate enough to provide the best equipment for our players.
“We have some great alumni invested in the program.”
Players have earned individual success at St. Vincent under Harris’ guidance with ten players earning All-American honors and eight moving on to professional careers in Europe.
“We have six or seven coaches who are assistants at the Division I level or are coaches at Division II or III programs,” Harris said.
Harris came to the Bearcats first as an assistant coach in 1996. He then was promoted to associate head coach in 2001 and became the head ball coach in 2003.
“My story is kind of crazy,” Harris said. “When I first came here, I was just volunteering and not getting paid. My first job here was popping popcorn while I coached basketball part time. I like to think as the college has grown, I grew with it.”
A native of West Virginia, Harris coached at Wheeling Park High School and Ohio University Eastern before arriving at St. Vincent.
Heading into his 11th season as coach, expectations are as high as ever. After winning back to back PAC tournament championships, Harris said the team will be young this season with only one senior in Sean Kett.
Despite having a youthful roster, the Bearcats will still be on the prowl for a conference title and berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.
“We think we can win it again,” Harris said. “We will all be highly disappointed if we don’t contend for another championship.”