After the 2016 basketball season, Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall told Chris Jans the next time a spot on his coaching staff opened, it belonged to Jans.
“He had a couple of job offers that spring,” Marshall said. “My promise to him was that I would move him up whenever someone vacated a spot.”
That time came when assistant coach Greg Heiar moved to LSU on Tuesday. On Thursday morning, WSU announced Jans’ promotion from special assistant to associate head coach, a title he held from 2011-2014 in his first run on the staff.
“It was easy,” Marshall said. “I wanted to get it done expeditiously.”
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Jans, 48, spent the past two seasons at WSU, in 2015-16 as a consultant and in 2016-17 as a special assistant to the head coach. In those roles, he helped prepare scouting reports, worked with video breakdowns and player evaluation. He remained a significant source of advice for Marshall.
“When you’re around someone for so long, the relationship gets stronger,” Jans said. “Over time, I think I’ve figured out what he wants and what his expectations are. It’s my duty as one of his assistants to make his job as easy as possible.”
Now he returns to a job that allows him to recruit. The recruiting calendar created Marshall’s urgency to fill the open spot.
WSU is entering an important recruiting period because it is scheduled to have seven seniors on the 2018 roster. The last two weekends in April are an evaluation period where coaches are allowed to travel and watch tournaments across the nation. The Shockers need all eyes on the road to restock the roster.
“It’s a challenge,” Jans said. “These next two weekends … to be able to get out and make some decisions on whom we’re targeting … it’s critical. Obviously, we’ve known about this for some time and plenty of groundwork has been laid.”
Jans is part of that groundwork, even though his role the previous two seasons limited his recruiting duties.
He attended meetings when coaches discussed recruits and evaluated video. Last July, an NCAA rule allowed him attend AAU tournaments after Marshall underwent minor eye surgery. The rule allows a school to flip roles in those kind of circumstances and Jans focused on players in the 2018 and 2019 classes.
“I was on the road 10 of the 15 days last July and was able to evaluate,” Jans said. “As it turns out, it’s going to be a big advantage for me in terms of transitioning back to the road.”
Jans was a member of Marshall’s original staff at WSU in 2007-08 and was promoted to associate head coach in 2011. He played the lead role in identifying former Shocker Ron Baker’s potential at Class 3A Scott City in 2011.
Jans coached the 2014-15 season at Bowling Green. Bowling Green fired Jans on April 2, 2015, after an incident at a bar near the Ohio school’s campus. Jans acknowledged acting inappropriately toward some female patrons.
“I am indebted to Coach Marshall and the whole WSU administration for bringing me home,” Jans said. “They’ve been unbelievable to me and my family and we’re thankful and grateful for them believing in us and being there when we needed them most.”