Sunday, April 05, 2015
Looking for the Next Step: VCU After Smart
The sudden departure of Shaka Smart as coach of VCU's mens basketball team came as an unpleasant surprise for many, but it opens up possibilities for future growth. VCU's current basketball team was recruited and trained exclusively by Shaka Smart to play Smart's Havoc-style of basketball, so coaches having experience with Smart's system are seen as having an inside track to replace him. There is a deep pool of talent for VCU to tap, including these four coaches.
There are still many fans at VCU with positive feelings about former Rams coach Anthony Grant. Grant coached VCU for three seasons, 2006-2007 through 2008-2009, before leaving to become head coach at Alabama. Grant led the Rams to the NCAA two out of three of his years at VCU. Grant struggled at Alabama, and on March 15, 2015, Grant was fired from Alabama. Despite some affection for him among some fans, Grant's return to VCU is seen as a long shot.
Jeremy Ballard is one of VCU's current assistant coaches. At this point it is unclear whether Ballard will stay at VCU or follow Shaka Smart to Texas. Like many of his rivals to replace Smart, Ballard understands Havoc-style basketball, having worked for Shaka Smart.
Will Wade is currently the head coach at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a former assistant coach for Virginia Commonwealth University. Wade is another possible candidate with roots and fans at VCU. He has two seasons as head coach at Chattanooga, and has experience working with a Havoc-style program, have been one of Shaka Smart's assistant coaches. Wade was with VCU during four consecutive postseason appearances, including a trip to the 2011 Final Four.
Mike Rhoades is another strong favorite among VCU fans. Roads is still another Havoc-alumni, having worked for Shaka Smart for several seasons. Rhodes is currently head coach at Rice, and it is unclear whether he would leave Rice after just one season to return to VCU.
No matter who is chosen as VCU's next head coach this much is certain: a choice needs to be made soon. VCU needs someone who can speak on behalf of the school and team to our recruits and assure them that the program is stable and they are very much wanted.If the process of replacing Smart is allowed to drag on too long, then we may see our recruits drift away, denying our current squad a new wave of talent.