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  • Jordan Banegas

Five Takeaways from 7.23.20 Jans Interview

NM State rockstar, Adam Young sat down with Coach Jans yesterday to recap the first week of practice and look ahead to the upcoming season. Normally, the first day of practice would be filled with members of the media and interviews galore but in the world we find ourselves in, we have to take what we can get. Here are five takeaways from Young's interview and some thoughts accompanying them. Enjoy!

1. Wilfried Likayi Grew

While Jans admitted to many unknowns about his new roster, one thing he was sure of is the fact that his team has gotten "bigger."In fact Jans said that his squad is "stronger, bigger, heavier" through the 3 and 4 positions. Jans cited JuCo transfer Wilfried Likayi as someone who has put on 20 pounds of muscle mass--even saying he believes Likayi grew vertically an inch or two and that the staff will be measuring him to verify the coach's observation. Keep in mind Likayi is already listed at 6'9" and plays facing the basket. That kind of size with his skill set is definitely something to keep an eye on as the season nears. I was already excited about Likayi as he was mentioned by Keith Roberts as one of two newcomers to watch in our Q & A with him earlier this month. Additionally, Jans mentioned Donnie Tillman, Mayan Kiir, and particularly Jason King as big bodies unlike ones we've had up front before. One can hear the excitement in his voice when describing them--which means I'm excited too, as should you be.

2. Clayton Henry Has Been Our "Best Player" 

The duo on the wing of Jabari Rice and Clayton Henry is the experience one dreams about for a mid-major college basketball program. Add Evan Gilyard and potentially oh you know a guy, AJ Harris to the backcourt and now you're drooling. Jans called Henry's injury last year a "silver lining" that allows for us to enjoy another year of him and even mentioned he was glad Clayton "stuck with us," indicating he may have been able to transfer as a graduate or decide to hang them up after last year. All this to get to the juicy part where Coach Jans again says that last summer Henry was arguably their "best player" before his injury. That's a squad with Rice, Harris, Brown, Queen and others; now that's saying something. Jans is rarely one to bite on questions about hype or projections, but didn't hesitate to say here that he "expects a big year out of Clayton." Do I see a first team all-WAC season out of the Canadian wing?

3. Chris Jans Has Established a Culture

Unsure if this is our insecure girlfriend complex speaking but it seems as though for the last three years, Chris Jans has treated the NMSU gig as a job--as he should. From Jans' tone in this interview and by his own admission, it sounds as though he's made this job his own, establishing a culture that mirrors the coach's gritty personality. Jans tells Young that over the last three days of practice, he has not needed to "raise his voice once"(!), citing older players and coaches knowing their roles and knowing expectations, making it easier for the new guys to catch on as camaraderie builds. This is no longer a coach on lease; this is Chris Jans' program.

4. No Schedule Update

Coach Jans is first to say mid-majors don't deserve any pity for not finding foes to play for the long college basketball pre-conference season--this doesn't mean it's any easier for him and staff to get those games on paper. Coach echoes those concerns in this sit down with Adam Young, mentioning that it's been extra difficult to get games scheduled as many programs have slowed down that process due to external circumstances. The one exciting out of conference game I'm looking forward to is Northern Iowa. Two premier mid-major programs going at it on a neutral court; though the clingy girlfriend complex in me again always gets anxious when Jans is on stage in the midwest as you know suitors are watching. Sounds like an opportunity to practice some mindfulness. #Breathe and enjoy the ride.

5. You Want to Play for Coach Jans

AY (Adam Young) keenly asks about skill work that he observed during the first three days of practice and one could hear the passion in Jans' voice (shocker) when discussing it. Coach mentions that his program works on skill work: dribble, pass, shoot throughout the year as a commitment to his players to develop their skill sets and not just focus on the games. This segment allowed for us to get a glimpse under the hood of Jans' recruiting pitch as he said he tells his recruits from the onset that he won't guarantee playing time but he will guarantee that they'll get a "fair shake," that NM State is about winning and that they want you to get better. This development in the program speaks for itself when you look at talents like Jabari Rice, Trevelin Queen and even Jemerrio Jones, who came in and blossomed under Jans' system.

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