After being the associate head coach for Cal State Fullerton men’s basketball for the past six years, John Smith will take on the role as head coach for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo men’s basketball program.
“Success is garnered because of people and I have been fortunate to work with one of the best humans in the world,” Taylor said in the Titan Athletics press release. “He showed our program grit, determination, servant leadership and dedication in the face of both adversity and triumph. I am grateful beyond words,” Taylor said.
Smith considers himself a defensive-minded coach and aims to rebuild a Mustang defense that allowed opponents to average 75.3 points per game this past season, the second-highest mark in the Big West conference.
Cal Poly SLO won just six games this season,its lowest win total in the program’s history since winning seven games 2008-09 However, Smith is confident in his ability to instill hope into the team.
“If you look at my track record, everywhere I’ve been, we’ve had some sort of success,” Smith said. “I really feel that this team could compete in the Big West conference for a championship next year.”
The announcement came two weeks after Cal Poly SLO’s athletic director, Don Oberhelman, decided not to bring back head coach Joe Callero.
Callero spent 10 seasons with the Mustangs and helped capture the program’s first Big West conference title and NCAA Tournament appearance in 2014.
— Cal Poly Mustangs (@CPMustangs) March 29, 2019
The 65 Big West wins during Callero’s tenure is the third highest mark in Cal Poly SLO’s coaching history. However, the Mustangs were unable to qualify for this year’s Big West tournament after finishing in ninth place, winning just two conference games this season.
Smith, meanwhile, won a Big West conference title with CSUF in 2018. The 20-win season in 2017-18 was the first time since 2011-12 that the Titans reached the 20-win threshold.
While at Fullerton, Smith was responsible for recruiting Tre Coggins, Lionheart Leslie and Jackson Rowe.
Coggins was named to the Big West all-conference first team while Leslie earned an honorable mention nod during their senior year in 2016-17. Rowe, who just finished his third year with CSUF, led the Titans in rebounds every year since his arrival.
Jamal Smith, Titan guard and John Smith’s son, said his father has done a lot to get to where he is today.
“I know my dad is very deserving of this position. The amount of work he has put into being the best coach possible is hard to miss. Cal Poly (SLO) got a great one, and I have full faith in my father that he is going to do big things as a head coach,” Jamal Smith said in the press release.