Smart chosen as new VCU coach

Updated: April 2, 2009, 6:52 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Virginia Commonwealth has chosen Florida assistant Shaka Smart as its new basketball coach, VCU assistant athletic director Mike Ellis said Tuesday.

A news conference was scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday at the Siegel Center on the VCU campus.

The 32-year-old Smart was an assistant to Billy Donovan at Florida last season and will become the second consecutive Donovan assistant to take over as the Rams' head coach.

Anthony Grant, Donovan's right-hand man for 10 years at Florida, spent the last three seasons as VCU's head coach, compiling a 76-25 record and leading the Rams to two NCAA tournament appearances as champions of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament.

Grant, 42, was hired last week to rebuild Alabama's basketball program.

At VCU, Smart will inherit a team that is expected to have everyone back except for point guard Eric Maynor, who was named an honorable mention AP All-American on Monday. Maynor averaged 22.4 points and this season became the Rams' career scoring and assists leader.

The returnees should include 6-foot-10 forward Larry Sanders, the CAA's defensive player of the year and Rams' No. 2 scorer and top rebounder. Sanders will be a junior next season.

Donovan is traveling and was unavailable to comment, Florida assistant sports information director Fred Demarest said. Smart also was not in Gainesville and unavailable, he said.

Smart has never been a head coach, but joined Donovan's staff after two seasons at Clemson. Before that, he worked as an assistant at Akron for three years, Dayton for two and at California of Pennsylvania, where he also earned a masters' degree in social science.

During his playing career, Smart was a point guard and captain at Kenyon College in Ohio for three years and graduated in 1999 as the school's career assists leader with 542.

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz was used in this report.

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