Laura Harper, who helped the University of Maryland win a national championship as a player, has been named Towson University’s Women’s Basketball head coach, Director of Athletics Steve Eigenbrot announced Wednesday.
Towson will introduce Harper at a news conference in SECU Arena on Thursday, April 21 at 11 a.m.
“Laura Harper embodies all that Towson Athletics is looking for in the next leader of our women’s basketball program,” Eigenbrot said. “Her background and understanding of this area uniquely positioned her to build on the amazing foundation we have in place. We have found an excellent, high-energy leader in Laura that represents a thrilling next chapter for this program.”
“I am ecstatic to accept this position as the Towson women’s basketball head coach,” said Harper, who replaces Diane Richardson. “I think the championship caliber culture that was instilled by Coach Rich is admirable and coming from the leadership that Brenda Frese taught me at the University of Maryland, I know what it takes to win. I am so excited that this group of young student-athletes are ready and prepared to continue their journey of success. I am eager, I am excited and I am ready to be the leader that believes and trusts in them.”
“This is a home run hire for Towson,” Frese said. “Laura is a rising star in our profession. All she does is win wherever she has been. Laura is a passionate, relational, competitive person who will continue to uphold the standard for the Towson Tigers. What a great day for Towson Women’s Basketball.”
Harper comes to Towson after a two-year stint as head coach at Coppin State University. In 2021-22, Harper guided the Eagles to one of the largest turnarounds in the nation and earned Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Coach of the Year honors in her second season at the helm. The Eagles won a school-record six games against Division I non-conference opponents, had a six-game win streak midway through the year and had their first winning campaign (15-13) since the 2013-14 season. In the four seasons before her arrival, Coppin went a combined 22-95. Jaia Alexander was named the 2021-22 MEAC Player of the Year while Aliyah Lawson also earned First-Team All-MEAC honors.
“I am thankful to President Kim Schatzel and the Senior Executive team at Towson, Steve Eigenbrot, Dan Crowley, Tricia Turley Brandenburg, Mike Gathagan and everyone else that has been so open and eager to accept me,” Harper added. “I am so grateful for the team at Coppin State from President Anthony Jenkins to AD Derek Carter to SWA Nichole Person. I am so grateful for them betting on me and believing in me.”
Prior to taking over at Coppin, Harper worked as an assistant coach at five NCAA Division I institutions and was head coach at one of the top collegiate preparatory schools in Florida.
Harper won 18 games as the head coach at Montverde Academy in 2019-20 with a team where five seniors earned NCAA Division I scholarships.
From 2017-19, Harper assisted the women’s basketball team at the University of Florida for two seasons. Under her tutelage, Paulina Hersler and Haley Lorenzen had career years as seniors.
Harper spent the 2016-17 season at George Washington University under Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame player Jennifer Rizzotti. That season, the Colonials won an Atlantic 10 regular season championship and advanced to the WNIT. Post players Lexi Martins and Caira Washington received all-conference honors.
From 2014-16, she worked as an assistant coach at High Point University. The Panthers won 20 games during the 2014-15 season and advanced to the Big South championship game. Stacia Robertson was named the Big South Player of the Year and an Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American before going on to play overseas.
Harper spent the 2013-14 season as an assistant at Loyola University Maryland. She was responsible for post player development, scouting and served as an academic liaison for the Greyhounds.
Immediately before going to Loyola, Harper spent the summer of 2013 coaching at American University after finishing her five-year professional career.
As a sophomore at Maryland, Harper led the Terrapins to the 2006 National Championship. She received the NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player award after scoring a then career-best 24 points in the semifinal victory over North Carolina. Two days later, Harper recorded 16 points in the title win against Duke. While in College Park, Harper scored 1,407 points, grabbed 873 rebounds, and broke the school record with 198 blocks. In her senior year, she was an Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American and Third Team All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) selection after averaging 14.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. She was a Naismith Award finalist during her junior season. On February 5, 2009, Harper’s No. 15 jersey was raised to the rafters at Xfinity Center.
Following her collegiate career, Harper was the 10th overall selection of the Sacramento Monarchs in the 2008 WNBA Draft. In two seasons, she averaged 5.0 points and 3.7 rebounds per game in 67 appearances. In her rookie campaign, she ranked in the top 10 among first-year players in field goal percentage (5th– .474), rebounds (6th– 4.0) and blocks (6th-0.6) plus was 13th in points (5.5).
Harper spent the next three seasons overseas- playing in Italy, Turkey and Russia before beginning her coaching career.
In addition to her collegiate success, Harper was a member of the U21 national team, where she helped the United States to a gold medal at the 2007 FIBA U21 World Championship in Russia. She was a starter for the 2004 USA U18 team which won the gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship. During that tournament she averaged 12.8 points, while shooting 63 percent from the floor.
Originally from Elkins Park, Pa., Harper earned a communications degree from Maryland. Her father, Haviland Harper, played basketball at George Washington from 1973-76.CAA Towson