By Sandeep Chandok (@sandeepchandok):
The new regime of San Jose State men’s basketball is underway as freshly hired head coach Jean Prioleau was officially introduced on Monday morning.
“When it comes to San Jose State, why San Jose State?” Prioleau said in his opening statement. “My vision — the vision is to graduate our players consistently, and then to compete for championships consistently.”
News of the hire broke on Friday afternoon, but SJSU Director of Athletics Marie Tuite mentioned how she’s known Prioleau for a couple years now, which likely factored into his hiring.
“We started communicating once he had applied for the job, but I’ve known him,” Tuite said. “Coach [Mike] MacIntire talked about him.”
Prioleau will transition from an associate head coach role at the University of Colorado in the Pac-12 to steering the ship at SJSU in the Mountain West.
Before his six-year run in Boulder, Prioleau served as an assistant coach at Texas Christian University for two seasons and worked on staff at Iowa State for two seasons prior to that.
Having previously worked alongside Tom Crean, Greg McDermott and most recently, Tad Boyle, three successful NCAAM coaches, Prioleau brings insight from knowledgeable basketball minds and knows the type of system he wants to run at SJSU.
“We’re going to play fast, we’re going to play an uptempo style of game,” Prioleau noted. “We’re going to play inside-out. We’re not going to just come up and jack threes every single possession.”
Prioleau acknowledged the team, a majority of which was in attendance at the press conference, and its efficiency in scoring the ball at a high volume last season.
SJSU scored 73 points a game in 2016-17 but also allowed 74 points a game, which Prioleau was certainly aware of and spoke to during his statement.
“We will be a defense and rebounding program,” Prioleau stressed. “That’s what we will be based on.”
Throughout his multiple coaching tenures, Prioleau has worked with a handful of talented players including notable NBA guys in Alec Burks, Andre Roberson, Spencer Dinwiddie and Derrick White, who was just drafted by the San Antonio Spurs out of Colorado.
At SJSU, the first-time head coach will have the opportunity to mentor All-Conference forward Brandon Clarke in addition to a core group that includes Ryan Welage, Jaycee Hillsman and Jalen James.
All four players are upperclassman with James being a senior, and for Prioleau, winning with that core starts with the mentality of stopping the ball.
“The short-term plan, it all comes down to changing the mindset defensively,” Prioleau said. “When we step on the floor, consciously thinking about guarding, shot-challenging, boxing out and just rebounding — just do that.”
Prioleau will dive into it Tuesday morning at 7 a.m. when the team has its first practice with its new coach.
A five-year deal will keep him around for a while, but Prioleau, who obviously wants to win, knows the importance of off-court work in addition to that on the court.
“When you’re talking about building programs, it’s not just about basketball,” Prioleau said. “It’s about building relationships with the entire community.”