MUNCIE, Ind. — When Khristian Smith joined the coaching employees on the College of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) men’s basketball team in June, he couldn’t have imagined he’d be packing up his luggage and transferring across the state two-and-a-50 % months afterwards.
But Smith claimed he has often been searching for the correct opportunity and, as odd as the timing might’ve been, the ideal possibility offered by itself in Muncie to return house and start out his coaching profession. Smith was hired as an assistant coach on Ball State’s men’s basketball workforce this 7 days.
In early July, Smith sent a text to Billy Wright, who took more than as the head mentor at Richmond Substantial College about two months after Wright was hired as an assistant mentor at BSU. Smith texted Wright to congratulate him on landing the position at his alma mater, which, in flip, received the ball rolling on acquiring Smith to Muncie.
Wright, who coached Smith throughout his large school days at Pike, advocated to get Smith hired as the third assistant at BSU. Former Indiana Point out men’s basketball mentor Greg Lansing, who coached (2012-16) and labored with Smith (2018-19) when he was as a graduate assistant, was executing the similar.
“Which is how factors begun rolling from there,” Smith reported. “I experienced two major hitters that form of strike mentor (James) Whitford from the commencing, so I got a great bounce on it.”
But, even devoid of two of Smith’s former coaches backing him up, BSU men’s basketball coach James Whitford claimed he was additional than impressed with Smith during the hiring method.
When searching for somebody to fill Wright’s location, Whitford explained he required to take his time. In Whitford’s head, it did not make feeling to hurry and retain the services of someone in the middle of the summertime.
The addition of Linc Darner in Could also permitted Whitford extra adaptability in acquiring a person to fill that void. With Darner, who brings 18 many years of head coaching knowledge, Whitford was not necessarily hunting to seek the services of the most expert coaching applicant.
Rapidly, Smith rose to the front of the candidate pool. Whitford reported his awareness of the game, personality and familiarity recruiting within just Indiana manufactured him an perfect candidate.
“In choosing Khristian, I’m self-assured that we acquired it appropriate,” Whitford stated. “He is a fantastic piece. He is a definitely talented mentor with a vibrant long run.”
Prior to joining Joe Golding’s team at UTEP this summer, Smith spent the prior two seasons (2019-21) at Texas Tech as a graduate assistant on Chris Beard’s employees. Smith joined his 1st coaching employees as a graduate supervisor at Indiana State, his alma mater, the place he concluded as the 22nd all-time main scorer for the Sycamores with 1,172 details and as the 17th player in system historical past to score at minimum 1,000 factors and report 500 rebounds.
Whitford had regarded Smith considering that his participating in times at Indiana State. From afar, Whitford usually noticed Smith as a “charismatic man” and a “great people today individual.” But as Whitford commenced to chat to the coaches Smith labored with previously — Golding, Beard and Lansing — Whitford was taken aback at how hugely they all spoke of Smith.
“Then, when I interviewed him and we talked basketball, he actually floored me with his expertise of the sport,” Whitford claimed. “I imagine he’s truly a youthful star. I could see why he shined so bright at Texas Tech, UTEP and Indiana State. He stood out to me when I interviewed him for the reason that he’s not only a definitely charismatic man, but he is acquired a excellent intellect for the video game and I consider he’ll be an outstanding trainer, also.”
Smith rounds out BSU’s coaching employees, joining Darner, who was employed in late-May possibly, and Ben Botts, who has been with the Cardinals due to the fact May possibly 2018.
It also puts an close to the Cardinals’ coaching carousel that saw three assistants depart because the close of the 2020-21 year. Wright arrived and still left, Matt Crenshaw remaining right after three seasons to acquire more than as the head coach at IUPUI, his alma mater, and Jason Grunkemeyer, who had been with the program for eight seasons, remaining to grow to be the boys basketball mentor and director of college student-athlete and coach improvement at Hilton Head Christian Academy in South Carolina.
But irrespective of a chaotic offseason that, together with various coaching lookups, also saw transfers Tyler Cochran, Demarius Jacobs and Mickey Pearson join Ball State’s roster, Whitford’s happy with how the coaching workers turned out.
“It is good, I could not be additional happy,” Whitford reported. “It was a super hectic spring for me mainly because we signed 3 fellas in the spring, 3 great transfers, and then we experienced to do a whole lot of employing. But, as you glance at it, we have a good team. Linc Darner speaks for himself with what he’s achieved as a mentor, Ben Botts is a star on our have team and Khristian I imagine is incredibly talented and I believe he has a definitely shiny long run as a mentor.”
Whitford reported Darner, who graduated from Purdue in 1994 and has coached each individual yr considering the fact that — outside of 2020 — will enter the 2021-22 year as the affiliate head mentor. “His practical experience, I think, can make that an straightforward determination,” Whitford claimed. Botts will continue on to function with the Cardinals’ offense, which observed its top rated a few scorers — K.J. Walton (Akron), Ishmael El-Amin (Rhode Island) and Jarron Coleman (Missouri) — transfer this offseason alongside with Zach Gunn (IUPUI). Smith, in accordance to Whitford, will do participant enhancement get the job done and emphasis on the defensive side of the ball.
“I’m just an additional piece to the puzzle,” Smith mentioned. “I am just seeking to aid this workforce earn quicker than afterwards, this year’s group, and increase to what coach Whitford has by now built there and construct relationships with these fellas, get again to the group, get back again to my recruiting ties with Indiana.”
One working day, Smith mentioned he desires to become a head coach. Appropriate now, he is psyched to get started off in Muncie following generating what he called a person of the “best conclusions” he is experienced to make in accepting the work.
“I want to study from the personnel I have in entrance of me with coach Botts, mentor Darner and, naturally, mentor Whitford,” Smith reported. “Individuals fellas ideal there acquired decades of expertise and I am fired up to get to understand from this new staff members and insert to what they previously have and what I figured out from my previous staffs.”
He included: “I’m just psyched for the year. Energized to get to do the job with this crew and coach Whitford.”
Robby General addresses Ball Point out and East Central Indiana significant college athletics for The Star Press. Get in touch with him via email at [email protected], on Twitter @rgeneraljr or phone at 765-283-8864.