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Jackson State Tigers Look To Build On "Contract" 2015-16 Season

Wayne Brent was given an extension after a coaching 2015-16 on an expiring contract. Jackson State now looks to build on that success with an experienced core.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wayne Brent knew he was under the gun last season. The third-year Jackson State coach had led the Tigers to consecutive 11-win seasons and was working under a contract set to expire at season’s end. But this wasn’t something he shied away from.

"You come into a situation and you have three years on a contract and you start counting," Brent told Jackson’s WJTV12 in March. "Year one, 11-20. Year two, 11-21. You come back your third year and you say okay, if this is going to work, we’re going to have to win. That was something we talked about and I thought our guys responded well to the adverse situation we were placed in."

That pressure may have played a role in a 20-win season that featured the Tigers first postseason victory since 1993. After losing to Southern 54-53 in the SWAC tournament final, Jackson State beat Sam Houston State in the first round of the CIT before bowing out to Grand Canyon on the road. The 20 wins were the program’s most since 2006-07, and represented just the fourth 20-win season since 1977.

Unsurprisingly, Brent was rewarded with a contract extension shortly after the season. He not only has job security going into next year, but also a roster talented and experienced enough to challenge for a SWAC title.

All-SWAC second teamer Paris Collins (13.0 PPG, 6.1 RPG) and Chace Franklin (12.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG) should be two of the better players in the league. Franklin didn’t get an all conference nod but was in the conference’s top ten in three pointers made,  defensive rebounds, assists, steals and points. There may be no more well-rounded player in the SWAC next year.

The Tigers also will have the hallmark of a mid-major ready to break out: experience. Big men Janarius Middleton and Treshawn Bolden will both be in their fourth year in the program, and fourth year under Brent. In total, the starting five should include four seniors and one redshirt junior, Collins.

Of course, Jackson State won’t be without challenges, as they’ll need to replace departing senior and leading scorer Raeford Worsham (13.3 PPG), who also landed on the All-SWAC second team. There are also three lightly-used players leaving the program in Altez Davis, Jalen Manumaleuga and Troy Stancil. The trio’s departure doesn’t represent a lot of lost production from last season, but means that some of Brent’s newcomers immediately need to step in and provide depth.

But the biggest loss?

It might be that sense of urgency that Brent impressed upon his team. The details of his contract haven’t been released, but it’s safe to say he’s the man at Jackson State for the foreseeable future. After making the grade in a contract year, the Tigers now set their sights on a bigger, grander postseason stage. The sting of losing by just a point in the SWAC tournament final should be more than enough to replace that sense of urgency.