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Texas Gets Smart: Shaka Smart is New Men’s Basketball Coach

Former VCU head coach becomes the 24th coach in UT program history. 

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Shaka Smart Texas


It’s almost like it was meant to be.

In January 2014, the #TexasStrong era began. Now it’s #TexasSmart, too.

Today Shaka Smart was announced as the new head coach for Texas men’s basketball. Smart, who was previously the head coach at Virginia Commonwealth University, replaces Rick Barnes, who led the Longhorns to 16 NCAA Tournament appearances and one Final Four in his 17 seasons at Texas.

“Shaka Smart is one of the best basketball coaches in the nation, and we’re thrilled to bring him to Texas,” said UT president William Powers. “He has vaulted VCU into the top tier of basketball programs and will now build on the great tradition established by Rick Barnes and the other Longhorn coaches who came before him. With his upbeat style of play, proven leadership and focus on education, Coach Smart will inspire our student-athletes for years to come. I look forward to seeing our program thrive under Shaka Smart.”

The 37-year-old Smart won 26 or more games each season during his six years at VCU and shot to national prominence after the 11-seed Rams reached the Final Four in 2011. He is known for his signature “Havoc” style of play, including an intense full-court press on defense. His team workouts have included a week of Navy SEAL training (something UT System Chancellor William McRaven knows a little about).

Smart was a four-year starter at Kenyon College, graduating magna cum laude with a history degree. He later earned his master’s degree in social science while an assistant coach at California University of Pennsylvania. He went on to serve as an assistant coach at Dayton, Akron and Clemson before spending the 2008-09 seasons as an assistant at the University of Florida. (Another Gator assistant coach that year: Charlie Strong.)

Messages of congratulations and excitement started pouring in over Twitter, including tweets from current and former players and prominent Texas Exes:

Longhorn fans are ready, too: