Before long, Shaka Smart will again be coaching a basketball game inside of VCU’s Siegel Center, but he’ll be doing so as the visitor.
According to a report from Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports, Smart his Texas Longhorns will kick off a home-and-home series with the VCU Rams beginning next season in December. The official date and time are yet to be set, but VCU will play host to the first meeting with Texas hosting the rematch in 2018-19.
The home-and-home series was planned as part of Smart’s buyout provision from when he departed from VCU for Texas in 2015.
Since Smart’s departure, the Rams have enjoyed 51 total wins in two seasons and back-to-back big dances, building upon a foundation of success Smart laid during his six seasons at VCU en route to a 163-56 record and five NCAA Tournament appearances. Before departing for Austin following the 2014-15 season, Smart was one of the nation’s hottest coaching candidates after reaching at least 26 wins every season at VCU and most notably, leading the Rams to the Final Four in 2011.
Smart’s debut season in Austin saw comparable success in 2015-16, as his Longhorns earned an NCAA Tournament berth behind four victories over top 10 competition — the highest mark in the nation. In 2016-17, though, following the mass exodus of his entire 2015-16 starting five and then some, Smart’s Longhorns struggled mightily and finished the season at 11-22, tying the program record for most losses in a season.
Much is still in question as to what Smart’s Longhorns will look like when he leads them into a gym he was once so revered in, such as Jarrett Allen’s NBA decision and five-star forward Mohamed Bamba’s ongoing recruitment, but there will certainly be no shortage of theatre.
Smart landed his “missing piece” point guard prospect Matt Coleman right out of VCU’s backyard at Oak Hill Academy, while Mike Rhodes, Smart’s former head assistant at VCU, has now taken the reigns of the program following Will Wade’s departure to set up a battle of old friends and colleagues.