The Mississippi State men’s basketball team will be without star center Tolu Smith to begin the 2023-2024 season.
Bulldogs’ head coach Chris Jans confirmed on Thursday that the Bay St. Louis native suffered a foot injury during a recent practice and will not see any action on the court until at least some time during conference play.
“We’re going to support and care for Tolu’s mental and physical well-being during every step of the recovery process,” Jans said. “We will continue to move forward with our preparations for the upcoming season as Tolu and his family would expect us to. He will continue to serve as a team leader from the sidelines until we welcome him back on the floor.”
A statement from Coach Jans. pic.twitter.com/ajqDcsj5Xb
— Mississippi State Men’s Basketball (@HailStateMBK) October 5, 2023
Smith returned to Starkville after entertaining the idea of remaining eligible for the NBA Draft before ultimately withdrawing his name.
The 6’11” center went from starting zero games at Western Kentucky to averaging 15.7 points and 8.5 rebounds on the way to a first-team All-SEC senior campaign last year.
Smith was also named winner of the Howell Trophy, given annually to the state’s top player in college basketball.
Mississippi State ended their 2022-2023 campaign in a 60-59 loss to Pittsburgh in the NCAA Tournament’s First Four round.
The Bulldogs will tip off the upcoming season on November 8 in Chicago, Ill. versus Arizona State and open up conference play on January 6, 2024, against South Carolina.