head basketball coach

Shaka Smart was introduced as the head men’s basketball coach at a Friday press conference. Smart joins Texas after six seasons at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

When men’s athletic director Steve Patterson was looking for a new head basketball coach, he said he felt Shaka Smart was the only man for the job.

“We said: ‘Who do we really want?’” Patterson said. “Somebody who’s a great, dedicated coach; somebody who plays an exciting style of basketball and is really interested in developing the entire group of student-athletes both on the court and off the court; somebody who is consistent in operating in an ethical fashion; somebody that we really wanted to bring to the University of Texas. We thought of Shaka Smart.”

On Thursday, Smart, the only candidate interviewed for the job, agreed to join Texas’ basketball program. He replaces former head coach Rick Barnes, who was asked to leave UT earlier after a 17-year tenure last week.

Patterson said Smart received a seven-year contract, with the first six years fully guaranteed, with an average annual compensation of about $3 million. As part of the buy-out with Virginia Commonwealth University, Texas will pay the Rams $500,000 and either play them in a home-and-home series or pay another $250,000.

Smart quickly became one of the hottest coaching commodities in the country when he led the 11th-seeded Rams from the play-in game to the Final Four in 2011. His teams were consistently good over his six years as a head coach. He won at least 26 games in every season and made the NCAA Tournament in each of his final five years in Virginia.

Many schools had tried to pry Smart away from VCU, but all were unsuccessful.

“To be honest, I didn’t know if I would ever leave VCU because of the relationships that I had there with the players and the coaching staff,” Smart said. “It really took a world-class institution, a world-class athletics program and a phenomenal place to convince my daughter, my wife and myself to make this move.”

But Texas was a “no-brainer,” Smart said.

“When the opportunity was presented to me to be the head coach here at Texas, I quickly realized this was something different,” Smart said. “This athletics department is all about championships, and I knew I was going to have the opportunity to work with a great group of young men.”

Smart is the first African-American head basketball coach at Texas. Texas will now be the third Division I school with African-American head coaches in both basketball and football, joining Stanford and Georgia State.

Smart said he feels the weight of his position as a “first.”

“I take that very seriously,” Smart said. “I grew up and was able to learn from and benefit from some terrific role models [and] some great mentors. … I hope that in this role as the men’s basketball coach at the University of Texas, I can play this role for someone else in this terrific state.”

Smart said he is going to bring his style of “havoc” basketball with him from Richmond, Virginia, which means a lot of pressing, fast breaks and overall aggressiveness.

“I can tell you right now, when you come to the Erwin Center to see us play, you’re going to see an exciting style of basketball,” Smart said.

However, Smart knows  he will have to adjust that style a bit with his new roster — one that has a plethora of skilled big men.

“That means maybe you adjust what you do to fit those guys’ strengths,” Smart said. “But at the same time, we’re not going to get away from what I believe in. We’re always going to be aggressive. We’re always going to be highly competitive.”

After the deal was announced, players said they agreed Smart’s confidence and style of play will have exciting implications for the program.

“My immediate reaction to hearing about Coach Smart was excitement,” junior forward Connor Lammert said. “We are turning a new page in the book and are real excited about it.”

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Rick Osentoski | USA Today

On this week's episode of the Daily Texan NewsCast we discuss Shaka Smart as the Longhorns' new head basketball coach, the results of the Wallace Hall grand jury, and a recap of last weekend's roundup festivities.

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Update: Shaka Smart has become the Longhorns' newest head coach, according to a press release issued Friday. 

Smart becomes the 24th head coach of the program, replacing Rick Barnes, whom Texas let go of last weekend. He will be formally introduced at a press conference Friday.

Texas men's athletic director Steve Patterson, who flew to Richmond, Virginia, on Thursday to meet with Smart, said in a statement that the program is excited about the new addition.

"We are extremely excited today to announce that Shaka Smart will be joining us in Austin as our head men's basketball coach," Patterson said. "He is a smart, driven, dedicated coach and developer of young men who the entire basketball world has watched with admiration for some time."

Smart leaves Virginia Commonwealth after six seasons, where he made an appearance to the Final Four in 2011 and claimed a 7-5 record in the NCAA Tournament.

"I'm looking forward to building on the past success of Texas basketball," Smart said in a statement. "This is a proud program that goes back over 100 years, I embrace that history. There is tremendous potential in this program, and my job is to work extremely hard to ensure that we realize that potential. I can't wait to get to work."

Original Story: Texas men’s basketball reached a deal Thursday to make Shaka Smart its next head basketball coach, according to multiple reports.

Smart, 37, has spent the past six seasons as the head coach at Virginia Commonwealth. He burst into the national spotlight in 2011 when he led the Rams to the Final Four. He’s won at least 26 games in each of his six seasons at VCU and made the NCAA Tournament in each of the last five years.

Although he never won a regular season conference title in his time at VCU, Smart boasts an impressive 163–56 career record in his six seasons as a head coach and is 7–5 in the NCAA Tournament.

According to multiple reports, Smart accepted the position at Texas after meeting with his team late Thursday night, launching him into what is only his second head coaching position. Athletic director Steve Patterson was rumored to have had his eyes on Smart from the start, flying to Richmond, Virginia, earlier Thursday for a meeting.

The deal-making hit a bit of a hitch after Smart’s team meeting got delayed for two hours, but, at the end of the day, Texas got its guy.

Before his stint with the Rams, Smart spent time as an assistant coach with California University of Pennsylvania, Akron, Clemson and Florida stretching back to 1999.

Texas football head coach Charlie Strong also served as an assistant coach for the Gators’ football team while Smart was with the basketball team.

Thanks to his immediate success at VCU and his charismatic personality, Smart emerged as one of the hottest commodities in the coaching market in recent years. UCLA, Maryland and Illinois attempted to bring Smart aboard to no avail in years past. Some believed Smart was content with remaining at VCU, but coaching at Texas, a team with seemingly endless resources, proved to be too big of an opportunity for Smart to pass up.

The Longhorns could contend right away under Smart’s leadership, as they expect to return much of their roster from this past season next year. Smart likes to run a high-pressure defense called the “Havoc” defense, a system that athletic guards such as sophomore Isaiah Taylor and junior Demarcus Holland figure to thrive in.

Smart replaces Rick Barnes, whom Texas let go Sunday after 17 years. Barnes, who is the winningest head coach in program history with 402 wins, was told after the Longhorns’ loss to Butler he would return as Texas’ next head coach. However, Barnes said, “things changed,” and he was later dismissed. Barnes accepted the head coaching position at Tennessee this week.