Smart in 2018
|Born||April 8, 1977|
North Kingston, Rhode Island
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1999–2001||California (PA) (assistant)|
|Administrative career (AD unless noted)|
|2001–2003||Dayton (basketball ops.)|
|Head coaching record|
|Tournaments||7–6 (NCAA Division I)|
|Accomplishments and honors|
NCAA Regional—Final Four (2011)
CAA Tournament (2012)
Atlantic 10 Tournament (2015)
Early life and playing career
Smart grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. In high school, Smart was a three-year starter for Oregon High School in his hometown. He was a second-team All-Badger Conference pick as a senior and by the end of his career was the all-time assists leader at Oregon for a career (458), season (201) and single game (20).
Smart attended Division III Kenyon College in Ohio, where he remains the school's career assists leader (542) nearly twenty years after his playing career ended. In 1999, as a senior, he was an All-North Coast Athletic Conference selection, named the NCAC Scholar Athlete of the Year, and among 20 students in the country selected for the USA Today All-USA Academic team. On ESPN's Pardon the Interruption, he credited his personal relationship with then head coach Bill Brown as the reason for his decision to attend the school.
Smart began his coaching career in 1999 as an assistant at California University of Pennsylvania, where he also earned a master's degree. Afterwards, he was hired as Director of Basketball Operations at the University of Dayton. He was then an assistant at the University of Akron for three years, Clemson for two, and Florida for one.
VCU hired Smart to be the head coach in the spring of 2009 after the program's previous coach, Anthony Grant, left to become the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide men's basketball team. Smart's hire made him the 10th-youngest head coach in Division I. In his first season, he led the Rams to a 27–10 season and a CBI Championship after VCU swept Saint Louis in the championship best-of-three series.
Smart's second season began with forward Larry Sanders declaring for the 2010 NBA Draft after his junior season. Sanders' selection by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 15th pick made VCU the first school in the Commonwealth of Virginia to have a player selected in the first round of the NBA Draft in consecutive years, as the Utah Jazz had selected guard Eric Maynor with the 20th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. The Rams under Smart went 23–11 in the 2010–2011 season. Smart led the Rams to their second consecutive Colonial Athletic Association Championship Game, where they lost to Old Dominion.
Despite not securing the automatic bid, VCU earned an at-large bid to the Southwest region of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The Rams were one of the last four teams invited, and were placed in the "First Four" against USC for a spot in the main 64-team tournament bracket. VCU defeated USC and then upset the 6th-seeded Georgetown Hoyas and 3rd-seeded Purdue Boilermakers to advance to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. VCU won 72–71 against Florida State University in overtime to earn the school's first spot in the Elite Eight and subsequently upset the top-seeded University of Kansas 71–61 for its first Final Four appearance. The Rams lost to Butler 70-62 in the semifinal game.
On January 19, 2013, Shaka Smart became the second youngest active coach to win 100 games, in a 90-63 victory over Duquesne.
On April 2, 2015, Smart accepted an offer to become the new men's head basketball coach at Texas. In Smart's first season at Texas, the Longhorns won 20 games and received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, which the Houston Chronicle described as having "surpassed all realistic expectations." That offseason, Smart received a contract extension, keeping him at Texas through the 2022–23 season.
On May 18, 2017, Smart received a commitment from Mohamed Bamba, the second ranked overall player in the 2017 recruiting class, to play at Texas. The following recruiting class was ranked eighth in the country after Smart received commitment letters from several highly ranked high school recruits.
Style of play
Smart's teams play an upbeat style of basketball known as "havoc." Smart described his "havoc" defensive philosophy during his introductory press conference as, "We are going to wreak havoc on our opponent's psyche and their plan of attack." On the court, the "havoc" defensive mindset is visible through the heavy use of the full court press and pressing after made baskets to disrupt opponents' timing of offensive sets. The Rams have consistently maintained one of the most efficient and disruptive defenses in the nation, ranking 1st nationally in both turnovers and steals forced per possession from 2011-2014. Offensively, Smart-coached teams play uptempo, push the ball after misses, and run a weave-heavy motion offense.
Smart's given name was bestowed in honor of the famous Zulu warrior. He graduated magna cum laude from Kenyon with a degree in History, researching and writing on issues related to race and the Great Migration his junior and senior years. Smart received an NCAA postgraduate scholarship and earned a master's degree in social science at California University of Pennsylvania. He developed a love for quotations at Kenyon. Smart began writing down quotes into a digital document that is now over 110 pages long. He also likes nature documentaries featuring big cats.
These former assistant coaches or players of Smart later became head coaches:
- Jeremy Ballard: FIU (2018–present)
- Jamion Christian: Mount St. Mary's (2012–2018); Siena (2018–present)
- Mike Jones: Radford (2011–present)
- Mike Morrell: UNC Asheville (2018–present)
- Mike Rhoades: Rice (2014–2017); VCU (2017–present)
- Will Wade: VCU (2015–2017); LSU (2017–present)
Head coaching record
|VCU Rams (Colonial Athletic Association) (2009–2012)|
|2010–11||VCU||28–12||12–6||4th||NCAA Division I Final Four|
|2011–12||VCU||29–7||15–3||2nd||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|VCU Rams (Atlantic 10 Conference) (2012–2015)|
|2012–13||VCU||27–9||12–4||2nd||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|2013–14||VCU||26–9||12–4||2nd||NCAA Division I Round of 64|
|2014–15||VCU||26–10||12–6||T–4th||NCAA Division I Round of 64|
|VCU:||163–56 (.744)||74–30 (.712)|
|Texas Longhorns (Big 12 Conference) (2015–present)|
|2015–16||Texas||20–13||11–7||4th||NCAA Division I Round of 64|
|2017–18||Texas||19–15||8–10||T–6th||NCAA Division I Round of 64|
|Texas:||50–50 (.500)||23–31 (.426)|
Postseason invitational champion
- "NCAA men's basketball: Ex-Oregon athlete Shaka Smart guides VCU past Georgetown". Host.madison.com. March 18, 2011. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
- Shaka Smart. "VCU Athletics". VCU Athletics. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
- Virginia Commonwealth Rams vs. Saint Louis Billikens - Recap - March 31, 2010 - ESPN
- DeCourcy, Mike. "Shaka Smart agrees to eight-year contract with VCU". Sporting News. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
- Shaka Smart has deal to remain at Virginia Commonwealth - ESPN
- http://www.timesdispatch.com/sports/college/vcu/vcu-blowout-gives-smart-th-win/article_b5ad542a-62a5-11e2-85a7-0019bb30f31a.html VCU blowout gives Smart 100th win
- Mike Finger (7 March 2017). "Shaka Smart confident UT's down year an anomaly". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
- "Texas basketball coach Shaka Smart receives contract extension, pay raise". Sports Illustrated. 26 August 2017. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
- Nick Moyle (31 May 2017). "Shaka Smart: Texas has a chance to take a 'really big jump as a program'". San Antonio News-Express. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
- Ricky O'Donnell (23 May 2017). "Mohamed Bamba is the most interesting basketball prospect in the world". SB Nation. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
- Nick Moyle (8 November 2017). "Texas' Shaka Smart puts together another stellar recruiting class". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
- Branch, John (March 26, 2011). "Coach Shaka Smart Has Become V.C.U.'s Brightest Star". The New York Times.
- Illinois Fighting Illini targeting VCU Rams coach Shaka Smart, according to source - ESPN Chicago
- "Shaka Smart". University Athletic Assoc., Inc., Sun Sports & IMG College. Retrieved March 31, 2009.
- "EXCLUSIVE: Coach Smart Is Going To Be a Father" Retrieved 2011-04-12.
- Tyree, J.M. (25 March 2011). "Shaka Smart, VCU: What it's like being related to the hottest name in March Madness Slate Magazine". Slate. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
- Wise, Scott (6 May 2012). "Shaka Smart: "I support President Obama"". WTVR. Retrieved 6 May 2012.