How Mississippi State basketball coach Chris Jans retained key players

STARKVILLE — Forward Tolu Smith was no different from most Mississippi State fans when the basketball coaching search began.

He was on social media and saw the rumors of Chris Jans coming to Starkville, so he got to work.

“I’m not going to lie, I looked into him,” Smith said Wednesday.

That stemmed beyond a Google search.

Smith reached out to his friend Trevelin Queen — the 2022 G League MVP and former standout at New Mexico State — to ask about Jans. Smith tuned in to watch Jans and the Aggies play in the NCAA Tournament and win their first-round game against UConn.

Smith admits he was close with former coach Ben Howland and entering the transfer portal was considered. But after Jans arrived, Smith and his family met with the staff, including assistant George Brooks, who was retained.

After an injury-riddled season, Smith felt returning to complete unfinished business was his best option.

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“I just love what they have going here and the energy that they’re bringing.” Smith said.

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