MARSHALL, TX (KLTV) - At Wiley College in Marshall, the men’s basketball team has been quietly racking up the wins. They’re currently 20-5, and they’re ranked 12th in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes.
Last year, the Wildcats made people take notice, and this year they’ve picked up where they left off - winning.
Wiley, one of East Texas’ best-kept secrets, just keeps winning and that dates back to last season. If you count the hot win streak late in the 2018 season, they’ve gone 33-6.
Jay Smith, Wiley College’s basketball coach, said that he had a great group of players last year, and they really got rolling late in the season when they won 12 of their last 13 games. He added they just missed making the national tournament.
“These guys have been on a mission,” Smith said. “We have six seniors. They just came out and showed hard work and dedication from day one.”
Ashton Demurrell, a Wiley College player, gave Smith credit for the basketball program’s recent success.
“Since Coach Jay Smith came to the program, all we did was advance and go up to the next level,” Demurrell said. “I think he’s been doing a very good job helping a lot of the players reach their peak potential at this level.”
Louisiana native Joshua Hamilton, who leads the team in scoring and is ranked third in the country in that category, said he is not a flash player.
“I’ve got a real good pull up,” Hamilton said. “I just hope you know I got to stay shot-ready at all times.”
Smith has sessions for his players where he can make coaching more intimate. His coaching style may be linked to the way Wiley College’s basketball program has improved in the last few years.
Should the Wildcats punch the ticket to the NAIA tournament in Kansas City and win it all, it may very well rival what used to be Marshall’s first best-kept secret, which was turned into a movie called “The Debaters” with Denzel Washington.
However, there is no debating this, the Wiley Wildcats are making folks take notice.