Texas made it official Friday that Virginia Commonwealth's Shaka Smart has become the Longhorns' newest head coach. Smart, who spent six seasons with the Rams, replaces veteran head coach Rick Barnes and becomes the 24th coach in the program's history. Here are five things you need to know about Smart:
All-time assists leader at Kenyon College
Former Texas head coach Rick Barnes was the point guard at the small Lenoir-Rhyne College. Smart attended the even-smaller Kenyon College, a small liberal arts school in Ohio with just 1,676 undergraduates.
Smart made the most of the opportunity as he was an All-North Coast Athletic Conference (DIII) selection and a member of the 1999 USA Today All-USA Academic Team. He is the all-time assists leader at both Kenyon College and Oregon High School (Wisconsin).
At his introductory press conference at VCU, Smart simply described his style of basketball.
"We are going to wreak havoc on our opponent's psyche and their plan of attack," Smart said in 2009.
And there’s no reason to think his plan of attack will be any different at Texas as he will use the full-court press and a transition offense. His teams averaged 9.5 steals per game, good enough for fourth in the nation. That’s a big difference than the 342nd ranked Longhorns with 3.8 (fourth worst in Division I).
Texas players may want to start their conditioning program early this summer because they will need every bit of it. The last two years Smart's team – including the staff – has gone through a week of Navy SEAL training to get ready for the season.
Origins of his name
Smart's first name comes from the African warrior Shaka Zulu, as he explained four years ago before an Elite Eight matchup with Kansas.
“Shaka is an African name, named after a king in southern Africa who united hundreds of thousands of people," Smart said. "He was a warrior, he was a tough dude, and my dad chose to name me after him. You may have seen the movie ‘Shaka Zulu.’ That’s who I’m named after.”
Climbed the ranks fast
Smart’s not the most experienced man out there, but he's had success in just his six years as a head coach. In his first year in 2010, he won the CBI. The next year, he was in the Final Four. Smart has made the tournament every year since that CBI title.
Before that, he didn’t spend too much time as an assistant. He started as an assistant at California University (Pa.) while getting his master’s degree in social science. Two years later, he was the director of basketball operations at Dayton and three years after that, he was an assistant at Akron. He spent two years at Clemson under Oliver Purnell. Finally, his last stint as an assistant was a one year job at the University of Florida, where current Texas football head coach Charlie Strong also served as an assistant for the football team.
At age 31, Smart became a head coach at VCU.
A scholar and a basketball coach
Smart is one bright mind. He quotes Shakespeare and others, reads from "Sun Tzu" and has a master's degree. He was admitted into Harvard, Yale and Brown out of high school but instead went to a Division III school, where he graduated magna cum laude. His father, who left his family when Smart was 11, had four college degrees and wanted Smart to be solely about academics — not sports — sometimes making him earn an A to play.