MARSHALL — After leading the Wiley College men’s basketball team to the second round of the NAIA Men’s Division I basketball tournament, head coach Jay Smith will be coaching in the NCAA next season, as he will become an assistant coach at the University of New Orleans.

“It’s a dream come true,” Smith said. “Getting to coach at the NCAA Division I level has always been a goal of mine.”

“Coach Smith’s new appointment is a testament to his hard work, coaching ability and dedication to building competitive basketball programs,” said Brandon K. Dumas, Ph.D., Wiley College director of intercollegiate athletics. “His passion for excellence and contributions to men’s basketball at Wiley College will not soon be forgotten.”

The Privateers won 19 games last season and reached the Southland Conference championship game. They qualified for the Tournament. Smith will work under head coach Mark Slessinger — who has followed his career since he was a high school coach at Comeaux in Louisiana.

“He’s always been a mentor to me,” Smith said. “He’s helped guide my career. He kept his foot in my butt to make sure I finished my degree so I can make the strides I’ve made as a coach the last few years.”

Smith has spent most of his coaching career in Louisiana. In eight seasons at Comeaux High School, he helped the program to 171 victories, three state quarterfinal berths and two district titles.

He joined Larry Cordaro’s staff and helped start the men’s basketball program at Louisiana State University-Alexandria. With him on staff, the Generals became a national powerhouse — winning 23, 29 and 34 games in Smith’s three seasons.

In his two seasons at Wiley College, Smith led the Wildcats to 33 victories. Last season, Wiley College won 24 games — which is second most in program history. It was ranked most of the season — rising as high as 10th and finished the season 12th — which is the Wildcats best end of season ranking in program history. Smith led the Wildcats to a third seed in the NAIA Tournament and led them to their first victory in 49 years when they defeated University of the Cumberlands 68-56 in the first round.

He helped Wiley College finish in a tie for second in the conference and earned Red River Athletic Conference Coach of the Year — the first Wiley College men’s basketball coach to win the award.

“There are good pieces here,” Smith said. I believe the Wiley College men’s basketball program will be in a great spot going forward with those guys