Texas hires Shaka Smart away from VCU to rejuvenate Longhorns

VCU head coach Shaka Smart looks on during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Saint Louis, Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Jason Hirschfeld)

VCU head coach Shaka Smart looks on during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Saint Louis, Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Richmond, Va

VCU head coach Shaka Smart looks on during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Saint Louis, Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Jason Hirschfeld)

Texas has hired one of the best young coaches in college basketball to lead its underachieving program.

Texas athletic director Steve Patterson flew to Richmond, Va., on Thursday and offered Smart the chance to coach in the Big 12 Conference at its richest school. Apparently the offer was too good to pass up. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Smart met with his players late Thursday night but what was said in that meeting wasn't clear because the players and Smart did not answer questions from reporters. 

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But soon after, VCU sports information director Scott Day told reporters that Smart was taking the Texas job. 

Smart led VCU to at least 26 victories in each of his six seasons as head coach of the Rams. He led VCU to its first Final Four in 2011 with his team playing a relentless pressing style of basketball affectionately dubbed "Havoc" at the school.

 It should be fun to see how it translates to the Big 12. In some respects we already know Smart's preferred style should be fine because West Virginia and coach Bob Huggins are doing just find with a similar system. 

Smart, 37, replaces Rick Barnes who coached the Longhorns the past 17 years but had not advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament since 2008 and was recently fired. 

Smart might have done one of his best coaching jobs this season, particularly in the latter stages of the season after losing star Briante Weber to a knee injury. The Rams rallied from that devastating news in late January to win the A-10 Conference tournament and get into the NCAA tournament. 

But expectations have only recently become part of the equation at VCU. They will be there from the start for Smart as he takes over a Texas program that hasn't been able to get out of its own way in recent years and grew stagnant with Barnes at the helm. 

 

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[Kyle Ringo is the assistant editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at kyle.ringo@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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