The Texas Longhorns officially confirmed the hire of new basketball head coach Shaka Smart on Friday morning and will hold an introductory press conference at 4:30 p.m. CT that will be available on the Longhorn Network and online at TexasSports.com.
After spending one final night in Richmond following what was surely an emotional team meeting with his former VCU Rams players, Smart arrived in Austin just before 3:00 p.m. CT and threw up the hook 'em Horns hand sign for the first time publicly:
Meanwhile, athletic director Steve Patterson, who seemingly hit a home run in pulling Smart away from the Rams, engaged in a phone conversation and generally looked pretty pleased with himself. As well he should -- Smart turned down numerous overtures from other schools since taking VCU on the improbable Final Four run in 2011, so it was difficult for him to leave the program he built.
"Leaving VCU was not an easy decision for me and my family," Smart said. "I will be eternally grateful to the players at VCU with whom I shared such special experiences. They have taught me so much and changed my life."
Now he'll embrace all facets of the Texas program.
"Coming to The University of Texas presents an opportunity to be a part of a special community," he said. "My highest priority is spending time and developing relationships with our current players, our former players and the young men who will make up the future of Texas Basketball."
Smart didn't waste any time looking towards the future, offering two prospects in the hours after the news of his hire broke. But he also reached out to former players, too:
And even though both already signed, Smart needed to to make sure that the 2015 guard prospects, Kerwin Roach and Eric Davis, are also on board with the future direction of Texas basketball. Mission accomplished:
Incoming Texas freshmen Eric Davis & Kerwin Roach will remain Longhorns following the hiring of head coach Shaka Smart.— Alex Kline (@TheRecruitScoop) April 3, 2015
Ready for what's to come— Eric Davis (@EricDavis_10) April 3, 2015
Among the current players, point guard Isaiah Taylor is the only threat to jump to the NBA, so the next few days will be crucial with him:
Also, I'm told that Texas G Isaiah Taylor will talk with his family this weekend about staying/going to NBA. He was excited about Smart.— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) April 3, 2015
To put it frankly, Taylor isn't ready yet and analyst Fran Fraschilla said as much:
A simple piece of advice for Texas' Isaiah Taylor: Stay in school and put together a great junior year.— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) April 3, 2015
Having already kept Davis and Roach in the 2015 class, the next important recruiting job for Smart will be keeping his point guard in Austin for at least one more season.
It's clearly been quite a whirlwind for Smart in the 24 hours or so since Patterson touched down in Richmond with the intentions of bringing Smart back to Austin. Having already made some key moves, Smart's just ready to keep working.
"I'm looking forward to building on the past success of Texas Basketball," Smart said. "This is a proud program that goes back over 100 years, and I embrace that history. There is tremendous potential in this program, and my job is to work extremely hard to ensure that we realize that potential. I can't wait to get to work."