Shaka Smart

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Shaka Smart
Shaka Smart at UVA.jpg
Smart speaks with an official in a game in November, 2013
Sport(s) Basketball
Current position
Title Head coach
Team Texas
Conference Big 12
Record 0–0 (–)
Biographical details
Born (1977-04-08) April 8, 1977 (age 38)
Madison, Wisconsin
Playing career
1995–1999 Kenyon
Position(s) Point guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1999–2001 California (PA) (asst.)
2003–2006 Akron (asst.)
2006–2008 Clemson (asst.)
2008–2009 Florida (asst.)
2009–2015 VCU
2015–present Texas
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
2001–2003 Dayton (basketball operations)
Head coaching record
Overall 163–56 (.744)
Tournaments (NCAA): 7–5
(CBI): 5–0
Accomplishments and honors
CBI Tournament Championship (2010)
Regional Championship - Final Four (2011)
CAA Tournament Championship (2012)
A-10 Tournament Championship (2015)

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

Playing career[edit]

In high school, Smart was a three-year starter for Oregon High School in Wisconsin. 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]

After graduating from high school, Smart attended Kenyon College, a liberal arts school in Ohio. On the ESPN program Pardon the Interruption, Smart credited his personal relationship with then head coach Bill Brown as the reason for his decision. As a member of the Kenyon College basketball team, he was an all-conference selection as a senior and is the school's career assists leader (542).[2] Smart was named a member of the 1999 USA TODAY All-USA Academic Team.

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.


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. The Rams' selection into the tournament was widely criticized. His coaching strategy, positive outlook, and patience helped VCU defeat USC in the First Four, 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. But in the Final Four, the Rams lost to Butler 70-62.

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, Shaka 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.

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 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.

Personal life[edit]

Smart's given name was bestowed in honor of the famous Zulu warrior.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9]

Smart has been married to Maya Payne, a professional writer and an alumna of both Harvard University and Northwestern University,[10] since 2006.[11] Their child, Zora Sanae Smart, was born on September 25, 2011.[12]

Smart's half-brother is the writer and professor, J.M. Tyree.[13]

He is a supporter of President Barack Obama, for whom he campaigned in Florida in 2008 and Virginia in 2012.[14]

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 Champions
2010–11 VCU 28–12 12–6 4th NCAA Final Four
2011–12 VCU 29–7 15–3 2nd NCAA Round of 32
VCU Rams (Atlantic 10 Conference) (2012–2015)
2012–13 VCU 27–9 12–4 2nd NCAA Round of 32
2013–14 VCU 26–9 12–4 2nd NCAA Round of 64
2014–15 VCU 26–10 12–6 T–4th NCAA Round of 64
VCU: 163–56 (.744) 74–30 (.712)
Texas Longhorns (Big 12 Conference) (2015–present)
2015–16 Texas
Texas: 0–0 (–) 0–0 (–)
Total: 163–56 (.744)

      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


External links[edit]