VCU hires Will Wade to replace Shaka Smart

Will Wade takes the reins at VCU, leaving CHAOS in his wake.

Update #1 — April 8, 2015; 8:55 AM

VCU will introduce Coach Will Wade on Tuesday, April 8th at 11 AM in the Stuart C. Siegel Center. The event is open to the public and will be simultaneously streamed here.

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Original — April 07, 2015

“There’s that saying, ‘Don’t work harder, work smarter.’ Well, Will works harder and smarter. He struck me as the hardest working guy I knew. His attention to detail is second to none, and he’s really good at developing relationships. I knew that Will was someone we had to have on staff here.”Shaka Smart

When Shaka Smart was hired as Virginia Commonwealth University’s basketball coach in April of 2009, his first hire was Harvard assistant coach Will Wade. On Tuesday, VCU Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin’s first hire after the departure of Shaka Smart was University of Tennessee Chattanooga head coach Will Wade. In Wade, VCU is getting a tireless worker, a strong basketball mind, a proven head coach, and someone intimately familiar with VCU basketball.

Wade and Smart met at Clemson in 2007 when Smart was an assistant and Wade was director of basketball operations. Wade soon became recruiting director at Harvard where the Crimson picked up a top-25 recruiting class in his first season while finishing 14-14–their first .500 or better season since 2002.

The recruiting success continued at VCU as he helped the Rams sign player after player both before and after the 2011 Final Four. After contributing to a 111-37 record over four seasons as an assistant coach at VCU, Chattanooga hired Wade before the 2013-14 season.

His first few months were tough as he finished 4-8 with three of the wins coming against non-Division-I schools. But something clicked before the New Year and the Mocs reeled off ten straight wins while starting 8-0 in Southern Conference play. Despite inheriting a program in disarray, the Mocs finished second to current Atlantic 10 team Davidson, and Wade was named the 2014 Southern Conference Coach of the Year. In almost every metric imaginable: wins, attendance, grades, community service, individual success; Wade helped UTC improve dramatically.

This season, the Mocs improved to 22-10, 15-3 and finished second to a Wofford team that at times flirted with the top-25. At only 32 years-old, Wade is already 40-25 overall and 27-7 in the Southern Conference as a head coach. The Mocs will enter 2015-16 with a roster equipped to win the Southern Conference–a roster that includes former VCU big man Justin Tuoyo. Tuoyo averaged 10.8 PPG and 6.4 RPG this season while tallying a remarkable 104 blocks.

Wade created “CHAOS” at UTC in the vein of “HAVOC!”:

CHAOS: Offensive Goals

  1. Lead the Southern Conference in scoring
  2. Top 20 nationally in TO margin
  3. Top 40 nationally in offensive rebound percentage
  4. Shoot 35% or better from 3-point range
  5. Average 67+ possessions per game

CHAOS: Defensive Goals

  1. Top three in the Southern Conference in scoring defense
  2. Top 20 nationally in steals
  3. Top 20 nationally in turnovers forced
  4. 35 or more deflections per game
  5. Eight or more student-athletes with positive scores on the Effort Chart each game

While the 3-point shooting and pressure defense is still a work in progress at UTC 1, the Mocs finished fifth this season in block percentage and shot 49.9% from 2-point range while finishing with the second best offense and defense in the Southern Conference.

The departure of Smart and graduation of HAVOC!-defining Briante Weber means VCU will look different on defense next season, but the Rams are equipped to light it up from 3-point range while still putting on the most entertaining up-tempo show in college basketball.

Will Wade has all of the tools to build on the success of Jeff Capel, Anthony Grant, and Smart. Add in a world-class practice facility, higher budgets for assistants and recruiting, and more talent than ever before, and VCU could be even better. Wade’s a familiar face who can bring stability to the post-Shaka program. He’s adopted many of the same beliefs as Coach Smart: process-based coaching, growth mentality, etc. Finally, he’s an exceptional recruiter, a proven head coach, a great basketball mind, and a tireless worker. Welcome (back) to Richmond, Coach Wade.

  1. Smart was lucky to inherit a program built on pressing. Recruiting the physical talent for a HAVOC!-based system has taken more time for former VCU assistants that have taken head coaching jobs. 
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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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