How Shaka Smart landed the highest-rated recruit of his VCU tenure on Monday

At an off-the-radar AAU tournament in Kansas City this past July, Terry Larrier found out which school wanted him most.

Many of the coaches recruiting him spent most of the week jet-setting between prestigious tournaments in Las Vegas or Orlando. VCU coach Shaka Smart and associate head coach Mike Rhodes were the only coaches in the stands in Kansas City for every game Larrier's team played.

"They were there throughout the course of the tournament, from game one to the championship," Team Scan coach Terrence "Munch" Williams said Tuesday. "VCU had always said Terry was a key guy and the No. 1 fit for them at his position, but it was important for him to see that their actions matched their words."

VCU's tenacity paid off Monday when Larrier committed to the Rams just days after returning from a visit to the school. The 6-foot-8 small forward chose VCU over UConn, but Florida, Florida State and Marquette were among the other high-profile programs who had offered scholarships.

A consensus top 60 prospect rated as high as No. 39 in the Class of 2014 by, Larrier is the most sought-after recruit Smart has landed and the highest rated recruit VCU has gotten since McDonald's All-American Kendrick Warren in 1990. Furthermore, Larrier is an ideal fit for VCU's revved-up system because of his length, quickness, blossoming perimeter skills and defensive versatility.

"The way VCU plays, you have to be able to affect the game on the defensive end as much as the offensive end," Williams said. "I think he does that, and he can do that from so many different places on the court. Shaka has the ability to place him in the front, the middle or the back of the press. He'll be able to get some easy buckets off his defense without so many plays having to be called for him."

If being VCU's top priority appealed to Larrier, so did the way Smart and his staff pursued him. Smart made it a priority to get to know the New York native during the 18 months that VCU recruited him, calling on his birthday, mentoring him regarding life as much as basketball and getting to know his friends and family.

All of that appealed to Larrier enough that he was willing to pass up the chance to play in the ACC, SEC or Big East, a decision Williams says is a testament to his character.

"It's a living example of what he's about and how he got to where he is today," Williams said. "The easiest thing would have been to go to a high-major school and try to win a national championship. The harder thing would be to go to a quote-unquote mid-major school and try to win a national championship.

"The thing he understands is his longterm development is more important than the name on the front of the shirt. He thinks VCU is going to do a great job of developing him over the next three or four years and getting him to the next level."

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