VCU Head Coach Shaka Smart Reportedly Leaning Towards Accepting Illinois Job

Zachary D. RymerMLB Lead WriterMarch 9, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 02:  Head coach Shaka Smart of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams reacts from the sidelines against the Butler Bulldogs during the National Semifinal game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at Reliant Stadium on April 2, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Illinois basketball program may not have to wait that long to find a new head coach.

Dan Wolken of The Daily reports that VCU head coach Shaka Smart may be gravitating towards becoming the Illini's next head coach:

Sounds like Shaka is going to take Illinois or is leaning that way, from what I hear.

— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) March 9, 2012

Illinois fired head coach Bruce Weber on Friday, per the Chicago Tribune. The Illini's season was ended with a loss to Iowa in the Big Ten tournament on Thursday.

 

What It Means

Smart has definitely done enough to earn a head coaching gig at a high-profile school. He turned the Rams into a Final Four team in just his second year on the job, and this year the Rams are poised to make yet another Cinderella run through the NCAA tournament.

If Smart can accomplish so much at such a small school without top-notch recruits, one can only wonder what he could accomplish at a school with as many resources as Illinois. 

The Illini could use a shot in the arm. Weber took them to the NCAA championship game in 2005, but since then Illinois has been largely irrelevant on the national landscape. This season, Illinois was largely irrelevant in the Big Ten, winning just six conference games.

 

What Happens Next

For now, probably nothing. Smart and the Rams have the NCAA tournament to worry about, so my assumption is he's going to wait to make an announcement one way or the other until after his team is finished with the Big Dance.

If Smart decides to accept the Illinois job, he'll start finding recruits and then teaching his players all the things that made VCU such a success. Presumably, this will start with the "Havoc" defense.

If Smart stays at VCU, he'll carry on as he has been and Illinois will have to look elsewhere for a new head coach.

 

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