Shaka Smart

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Shaka Smart
Shaka Smart.jpg
Smart in 2018
Current position
TitleHead coach
ConferenceBig 12
Annual salary$3.2 million
Biographical details
Born (1977-04-08) April 8, 1977 (age 42)
North Kingston, Rhode Island
Playing career
Position(s)Point guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1999–2001California (PA) (assistant)
2003–2006Akron (assistant)
2006–2008Clemson (assistant)
2008–2009Florida (assistant)
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
2001–2003Dayton (basketball ops.)
Head coaching record
Tournaments7–7 (NCAA Division I)
5–0 (NIT)
5–0 (CBI)
Accomplishments and honors
CBI (2010)
NCAA Regional—Final Four (2011)
CAA Tournament (2012)
Atlantic 10 Tournament (2015)
NIT (2019)

Shaka Dingani Smart (born April 8, 1977) is an American men's college basketball coach and former player. He is currently the head men's basketball coach at the University of Texas at Austin.

Early life and playing career[edit]

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).[1]

Smart attended Division III Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where he remains the school's career assists leader (542) twenty years after his playing career ended. In 1999, as a senior, he was an All-North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) 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.[2] 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.

Coaching career[edit]

Assistant coach[edit]

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.


Smart as VCU coach in 2013.

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.[3]

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 April 4, 2011, Smart agreed to an 8-year contract extension with VCU, increasing his base pay from $350,000 to $1.2 million per year, prior to any performance bonuses.[4][5]

On January 19, 2013, Smart became the second youngest active coach to win 100 games, in a 90-63 victory over Duquesne.[6]


On April 2, 2015, Smart accepted an offer to become the new men's head basketball coach at Texas. In his 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."[7] That offseason, Smart received a contract extension, keeping him at Texas through the 2022–23 season.[8]

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.[9][10] The following recruiting class was ranked eighth in the country after Smart received commitment letters from several highly ranked high school recruits.[11]

Style of play[edit]

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 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.

Personal life[edit]

Smart's given name was bestowed in honor of the famous Zulu warrior.[12] He graduated magna cum laude from Kenyon with a degree in history, researching and writing on issues related to race and the Great Migration.[13] 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.[14]

Smart has been married since May 20, 2006, to Maya Smart, a professional writer and alumna of Harvard University and Northwestern University.[1][15][16] Their daughter was born in 2011.[1][17]

Smart has several half-siblings from his estranged father Winston Smart including Sekou Lumumba Smart.[citation needed] Smart's half-brother, J.M. Tyree, is a writer and professor.[18]

Smart is a supporter of former President Barack Obama, for whom he campaigned in Florida in 2008 and Virginia in 2012.[19]

Coaching tree[edit]

These former assistant coaches or players of Smart later became head coaches:

Head coaching record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
VCU Rams (Colonial Athletic Association) (2009–2012)
2009–10 VCU 27–9 11–7 T–5th CBI Champion
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
2016–17 Texas 11–22 4–14 10th
2017–18 Texas 19–15 8–10 T–6th NCAA Division I Round of 64
2018–19 Texas 21–16 8–10 6th NIT Champion
Texas: 71–66 (.518) 31–41 (.431)
Total: 234–122 (.657)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "NCAA men's basketball: Ex-Oregon athlete Shaka Smart guides VCU past Georgetown". March 18, 2011. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
  2. ^ Shaka Smart. "VCU Athletics". VCU Athletics. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
  3. ^ Virginia Commonwealth Rams vs. Saint Louis Billikens - Recap - March 31, 2010 - ESPN
  4. ^ DeCourcy, Mike. "Shaka Smart agrees to eight-year contract with VCU". Sporting News. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
  5. ^ Shaka Smart has deal to remain at Virginia Commonwealth - ESPN
  6. ^ VCU blowout gives Smart 100th win
  7. ^ Mike Finger (7 March 2017). "Shaka Smart confident UT's down year an anomaly". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 24 June 2017. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  8. ^ "Texas basketball coach Shaka Smart receives contract extension, pay raise". Sports Illustrated. 26 August 2017. Retrieved 24 June 2017. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  9. ^ 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. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  10. ^ Ricky O'Donnell (23 May 2017). "Mohamed Bamba is the most interesting basketball prospect in the world". SB Nation. Retrieved 24 June 2017. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  11. ^ Nick Moyle (8 November 2017). "Texas' Shaka Smart puts together another stellar recruiting class". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 6 December 2017. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  12. ^ Branch, John (March 26, 2011). "Coach Shaka Smart Has Become V.C.U.'s Brightest Star". The New York Times.
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Illinois Fighting Illini targeting VCU Rams coach Shaka Smart, according to source - ESPN Chicago
  16. ^ "Shaka Smart". University Athletic Assoc., Inc., Sun Sports & IMG College. Retrieved March 31, 2009.
  17. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Coach Smart Is Going To Be a Father" Retrieved 2011-04-12.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ Wise, Scott (6 May 2012). "Shaka Smart: "I support President Obama"". WTVR. Retrieved 6 May 2012. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |newspaper= (help)

External links[edit]