Cajuns add former UTEP forward Tirus Smith from JUCO ranks to hoops signing class

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Mississippi native played freshman year at UTEP; will have two years of eligibility remaining

LAFAYETTE – Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns men’s basketball coach Bob Marlin bolstered his front court for the 2019-20 season when he announced on Monday the signing of junior college forward Tirus Smith to a National Letter of Intent.

Smith, a 6-foot-8, 250-pound product, will have two years of eligibility remaining after splitting time at UTEP (2017-18) and Jones County (Miss.) Junior College (2018-19). The Richton, Miss., native is the fourth newcomer for Louisiana for the 2019-20 season, joining early signees Javonne Lowery (Pearland, Texas), Chris Spenkuch (Miami, Fla.) and Mylik Wilson (Rayville, La.).

“Tirus is an experienced inside player, who played a year of Division I basketball before transferring to Jones County,” Marlin said. “He’s a young man that we’ve watched all year and feel like he can give us inside scoring and rebounding. He rebounds the ball well and shoots the ball well up to the 3-point arc. He’s a good post player with both hands, has good size and is strong.”

Smith averaged 8.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 0.5 assists per game during the 2018-19 season at Jones County Junior College. He led JCJC, and ranked No. 33 nationally, in field goal percentage after going 81-for-130 (62.3 percent) from the floor while helping guide the Bobcats to a 21-7 record and 12-2 mark in MACJC South Division.

He reached double figures in scoring in 12 games during the season with a season-high 22 coming against Hinds Community College.

“Louisiana is getting a tremendous person and player in Tirus,” JCJC coach Randy Bolden said. “His ability to score inside and out makes him a special player.”

Smith played as a freshman at UTEP in 2017-18, averaging 4.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 0.5 blocks over 24 contests. He ranked third for the Miners in blocked shots (11).

Smith earned All-District 6A honors in 2016-17 at Petal (Miss.) High after averaging 14.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and two blocks per game. He recorded 10 double-doubles as a senior, with season-highs of 30 points and 19 rebounds.

He scored 1,003 points in just over two seasons of varsity basketball and was named to The Clarion-Ledger’s “Dandy Dozen” as one of the 12 best players in the state of Mississippi.

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Javonne Lowery – G, 6-3, 175, Pearland, Texas (Pearland HS)
Tirus Smith – F, 6-8, 250, Richton, Miss. (Petal HS/Jones County JC/UTEP)
Chris Spenkuch – F, 6-7, 195, Miami, Fla. (Miami Norland HS)
Mylik Wilson – G, 6-3, 175, Rayville, La. (Rayville HS)

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