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Charlie Harrison, former Wake Forest basketball player, dies
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Charlie Harrison, former Wake Forest basketball player, dies

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When Wake Forest needed a guard to push the Deacons to another level in the early 1990s, Coach Dave Odom listened to what Randolph Childress told him.

That’s what brought Charlie Harrison — dubbed “Charlie Mo” by his teammates — to Wake Forest.

“He gave us motivation when he came in the game or a practice. He was always upbeat, so we called him Charlie Mo,” Odom said today. “Even to this day, you get in a grouping like we were, back Feb. 19 (for Odom’s banner-raising and a celebration of the 1995 ACC championship team), everybody wanted to know where Charlie Mo was.

“It wasn’t Charlie Harrison, it was Charlie Mo.”

Harrison died unexpectedly Tuesday at age 47. Initial indications are that the cause of death was a heart attack.

Harrison transferred to Wake Forest from Georgetown and played for the Deacons from 1992 to '94. He averaged 6.1 and 8.7 points in his two seasons with the Deacons, starting 26 games for the team that reached the Sweet Sixteen in 1993.

His time at Wake Forest was preceded by a conversation between Odom and Childress, in which Childress suggested the Deacons look at bringing in Harrison, who had left Georgetown halfway through his sophomore season. Odom was familiar with Harrison from recruiting him.

“Charlie Harrison as a Deacon, credit Randolph Childress more than any other person for that,” Odom said. “I think what I can say without any fear of equivocation, what we needed at that time, Charlie Harrison provided. He was the missing link.”

Childress knew that Harrison, who was a friend from the Washington area, would be a good fit for Odom’s system.

“We needed something different, we needed a plug in the backcourt,” Odom said. “(Childress) said, ‘Let me tell you who the best guard, knowing your system, knowing what we ask of our players in the backcourt, the best guard possible … is a transfer. You remember him because you tried to recruit him out of high school.’ I said, ‘Who is it, Randolph?’

“He said, ‘Charlie Harrison.’”

Odom said Harrison was popular with teammates, an asset to Wake Forest’s campus and “a great kid to be around.”

“When one of your own passes away, it touches deeply. But when they pass away at such an early age, it really affects everybody,” Odom said. “Me and my players and those that knew him. Too early, too soon.”

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