Wiley men’s basketball head coach Jay Smith received a text following a team practice with news that excited the coaches and players – it was from Andrew Glover, the school’s Sports Information Director.

“When we were coming from practice, at LeTourneau for the conference tournament, Andrew texted me and told me congratulations for earning coach of the year and I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me, man,’” Smith recalls. “I found out in the van on the way back, so we all went to the cafeteria and I told them about and they blew up, man. They were so happy about it.”

Despite the fact it may sound like an individual award, Smith said it’s really a team award.

“It meant a lot, man, not so much for me but for all the work those kids put in day in and day out for this to be acknowledged,” he said. “At the end of the day, without them, I don’t get the award.”

Smith became the first men’s head basketball coach in program history to earn the award.

“That was special, man. Wiley is rich with tradition in so many different areas on campus, so for me to be named the first men’s basketball coach of the year, that was a tremendous honor.”

Smith led his Wildcats to an overall record of 24-7 and a Red River Athletic Conference record of 14-4. They defended their home court by going 12-1 at home. His squad jumped to No. 10 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics while leading the conference in points allowed, opponents field goal percentage, rebounds, rebounds allowed as well as free-throw percentage.

It’s crazy because I’ve been a part of coach (Larry) Cordaro’s staff at LSUA and he’s won a bunch of Coach of the Year awards but to have my own name on that plaque, that was different,” he said.

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a 10-parts series looking back at the biggest athletic stories at Wiley College during the 2018-19 school year.