23 Roger Harden

Hometown (Last School)
Valparaiso, IN (High)
1982-83, 1983-84, 1984-85, 1985-86
December 19, 1963

Roger Harden was born Roger Alan Harden in Danville, Illinois, on December 19, 1963, to Myrna Coleman Harden and Al Harden. He had two brothers: Rodny and Rob. His father played college basketball at Indiana University. His brother Rob played for Florida before transferring to Valparaiso University, then left shortly after for . His other brother Rodny starred at Liberty University in Virginia.

As a sophomore at Valparaiso High School, in Indiana, Harden averaged 13.7 points per game and had a season-high of 27 points. He averaged 21.1 points as a junior. As a senior, Harden set school single-season and career scoring records for Valparaiso and was named Indiana's Mr. Basketball for 1982. A third-team all-stater as a junior, Harden was voted to the first team in 1982 after scoring 691 points for a 27.6 average. In his career, Harden scored 1,590 points and had a single-game high of 46. He also led the Vikings in assists with five per game.

Harden was the third Indiana Mr. Basketball to play at Kentucky. of Peru, Indiana's Mr. Basketball in 1975, joined the Wildcats after first attending Purdue. , who won the honor in 1980, also played for the Wildcats.

Harden was a three-year starter at the point guard position during his four-year career at Kentucky from 1982 to 1986. During his senior year in 1986, Harden set a single-season assist record with a total of 232. His average of 6.44 assists per game in 1986 ranks him fourth in Kentucky history. Harden's 498 career assists put him third overall in Kentucky history behind (646) and (544). His 4-year average for assists per game was 4.08 which put him at eight overall in Kentucky history. He was also named Third-Team All-SEC and to the All-SEC Tournament team during his senior year. Harden scored a total of 478 points as a Wildcat.

As a freshman at Kentucky, Harden averaged 0.8 points per game in 27 games played. He spent much of the early season on the bench, until he received his opportunity to play when injured his knee. He realized he had three experienced guards in front of him, but still envisioned playing time. “It's natural to expect a lot of playing time coming in as a freshman,” the 6-1 guard said. “But my playing was justified.” Practicing everyday against Dirk Minniefield, Dicky Beal and Jim Master enabled Harden to improve areas of his game, and prepared him for game situations, but was also a frustrating experience. “l don't know if it was a mental thing. I always knew I could play on this level of competition,” he said. “Playing against Dirk, Dicky and Jim was like running into a brick wall. I had difficulty getting the ball inbounds, over half-court and getting my shot off. I'm not going to face anything or anybody I haven't played in practice. I won't face a better athlete than Dirk Minniefield someone quicker than Dicky or a better outside shooter than Jim.”

During his sophomore season, Harden started 21 of UK's first 22 games prior to Dicky Beal's recovery from a knee injury and played in 29 games total. He averaged 1.9 points and 1.2 rebounds. He was second to Dicky Beal on the squad with 99 assists. Harden had 13 games with four or more assists and he had season-high six points on four occasions. He played extremely well against Houston on national television scoring six points and dishing six assists in 24 minutes of play.

As a junior, Harden played in 30 of UK's 31 games, starting in 28 games. Harden led the Wildcats in assists with 142 (4.7/ game) and averaged 5.3 points and 1.5 rebounds a game. He scored a career-high 13 points against St. John's in UK's final game of the 84-85 season (NCAA tourney—Denver — 3/22/85). Harden dished out 12 assists against Tennessee, which was just two shy of the UK single-game record (14), held by Dirk Minniefield and Dicky Beal. He accounted for 47 assists in the last seven games of the season and had 5 or more assists in 14 games. Harden was regarded as a playmaker who knows how to be a “floor general” and lead the team. Harden was a member of the US team in the World University Games and was selected to the 12-man team to compete in Kobe, Japan. He led the U.S. squad in assists and averaged nearly 10 points a game. His finest offensive showing in the games came on the first night when he scored 17 points and handed out 11 assists.

As a senior, Harden averaged 9.4 points and 6.4 assists per game in 31 minutes per game. Harden never shot better than 39 percent in his first three seasons at UK. Convinced his shots now were essential to the offense, Harden asked a friend to shag for him during the summer. Every night he shot 300 times. His percentage climbed to 53 percent and his hesitation dropped to zero. “I don't want to talk about what's happened in past years,” said Harden. “I've had the stigma that I couldn't shoot the ball. I've been encouraged by coach Sutton to step up and shoot the ball. He's definitely had a positive effect on my offensive game and my defensive game.” He became one of the best clutch shooters in the nation:

  • January 29, 1986, in Baton Rouge: Harden dribbled upcourt and made a 25-footer at the buzzer. Wildcats 54, 52
  • February 13, 1986, in Tuscaloosa: Harden made a 23-footer with six seconds remaining. Wildcats 73, Alabama 71.
  • March 7, 1986, in Rupp Arena: With Kentucky leading by a point, one second left on the shot clock, eight seconds to play, Harden made a 22-footer. Wildcats 61, LSU 58.
  • March 8, 1986, in Rupp: With Kenny Walker scoring no first-half baskets in the SEC final, Harden made six of seven first-half shots. He finished with 18 points, a career-high, and seven assists. Wildcats 83, Alabama 72. He made the SEC All-Tournament team.

His confidence on the floor, no matter what the situation, kept the Wildcats poised in difficult times. “Roger allows his confidence to ooze out of himself into the other players,” Coach Eddie Sutton said. “He's at his best when the game is tight. Our team wants to see the ball in his hands late in the game. He's not as big as some guards I had at Arkansas but he's one of the best passers I've ever coached. He's also become a good defensive player. Don't ever underestimate his value to this team.” Harden, who hoped to go into coaching, said he enjoyed his role as a playmaker and team leader. “I lead by example. I give 110 percent every day. I also try to be sensitive to all that is going on with other players because I know what it is like to go through rough times.”

Harden finished a remarkable senior season at the University of Kentucky, where his deft hands and unselfish style of play helped the Wildcats under first-year coach Eddie Sutton — to a 32-4 record. He had broken his own single-season assist record handing out 232 gifts, compared to 142 the previous campaign. Other collegiate numbers included 122 game appearances, and 85 as Kentucky's starting point guard — 22 starts as a sophomore playing for Joe B. Hall. His tenure was exciting. The kind of stuff most young boys from Indiana and Kentucky are only able to dream about. As a sophomore in 1984 he was a member of Kentucky's Final Four team that lost in the semi-finals to eventual national champion Georgetown. During Harden's four years at UK, the Wildcats amassed a 102-30 record. “I don't think it's any secret to anybody at least it's no secret to me —” said Kenny Walker, “that you can throw away all the points we scored that senior year and all the great players we had on that team, and single out one person who was the key to that year…that person was Roger Harden.”

Harden was selected in the 5th round of the 1986 Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 115th pick but his dreams of an NBA career never materialized.

After his playing career ended, Harden spent a year as an assistant coach at Kentucky under coach Eddie Sutton and coached AAU basketball in Indiana. In 2012, he was hired to rebuild the program at Williamstown and went 32-79 in four seasons at the helm. He was the 2017 NCKC and Eighth Region Coach of the Year. Williamstown is the hometown of Harden's wife, Gina. In his second season on the job, Williamstown won double digit games for the second time in a decade and broke a 30+ game losing streak against district opponents. But that was just the beginning for Harden and the Demons. In year four of his tenure, Williamstown won 13 games, the most since Tim Mefford was coach in the early 2000's, and the program was no longer an afterthought in the region. Others were taking notice. But the 2016/17 season was one of the best for the program that anyone can remember, with the Demons compiling a winning record against a beefed-up and advancing to the regional tournament for the first time in 20 years. During that campaign, Williamstown beat Simon Kenton for what is believed to be the first time in school history, and won back-to-back games against cross-town rival Grant Co., ending a 27-game losing streak against the Braves. For his efforts, Harden was named the KABC Region 8 Coach of the Year.

In April of 2022, Harden became the head basketball coach at Carroll County High School.

Roger Harden married Gina Gutman in 2000. They have four children: Joseph, Allison, Sarah, and Olivia.


College Statistics:

Per Game



1982-83270170723.304      710.700192530232121
1983-8429214632568.368      56.8333699170585255
1984-85302875866167.395      2634.765461422805561158
1985-8636361121109208.524      2631.839792323318667244
Career122852512207466.444      6481.790180498811222201478