BOZEMAN — Montana State head men's basketball coach Danny Sprinkle went with familiarity to fill the director of operations position on his staff as he announced the addition of Jamal Smith to the Bobcat program on Thursday.
Smith officially joined the program ahead of the team's travel to start its seven-game road stretch, taking over the slot opened by the departure of Steve Grabowski who left the position ahead of the start of the 2021-22 season.
Smith was a member of the Cal State Fullerton program while Sprinkle was an assistant for the Titans from 2015-19. Smith was a contributor to the Titans' squad in 2018 that won the Big West Conference title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Over the course of three seasons for CSU Fullerton, Smith appeared in 86 games.
The son of John and Kelly Smith, Jamal Smith graduate transferred to Cal Poly ahead of the 2019-20 season when his father — who coached with Sprinkle at CSU Fullerton — was hired as the Mustangs' head coach.
Smith eventually played in 29 games for Cal Poly and started in 21 contests. He averaged a career-high 6.9 points and 2.5 rebounds while playing over 23 minutes per game. Smith was a double-digit scorer in nine outings which included a career-best 19-point effort versus CSU Northridge.
"First and foremost, Jamal is a high character individual who wants to develop as a young coach in this profession," Sprinkle said. "He's passionate about being a coach.
"His tremendous work ethic was instilled by his parents. I saw that first-hand working alongside his father for six years and I know Jamal will be the same. Even though his father is a tough coach, he gets a lot of his toughness and tenacity from his mom," Sprinkle said half jokingly. "She doesn't accept mediocrity. He will learn a tremendous amount from our staff and also being in a different league and out of his comfort zone will benefit him. I'm excited about his future in this business."
Smith signed with professional club Vahakni City of the Basketball Federation of Armenia following his lone season at Cal Poly and played the 2020-21 season overseas.
The Montana State men's basketball team continues its nonconference schedule on Saturday with a 2 p.m. matchup at New Mexico. The contest airs on the Mountain West Network at TheMW.com/watch and on Stadium.