Will Wade Takes Over at VCU
October 7, 2015
It was completely understandable that VCU fans would be concerned when they learned that Shaka Smart, the innovative and highly successful coach who brought Havoc to town, announced this spring that he was leaving for Texas.
After all, what Smart accomplished in his six years in Richmond was remarkable, winning 163 games and taking the Rams to the Final Four of the 2011 NCAA Tournament after winning the 2010 College Basketball Invitational.
So on April 8, a collective sigh of relief was heard when it was announced that Will Wade, who served as an assistant for the Rams from 2009-13, would return as Smart’s successor after two seasons as head coach at Chattanooga.
Wade earn his shot after a successful run at the helm of the Mocs, posting a 40-25 record which included a 27-7 mark in the Southern Conference. That’s even more impressive when you consider he inherited a team that compiled a 24-40 record and 13-23 league ledger in the two seasons prior to his arrival.
“We knew quickly that Will Wade is the best fit to lead the VCU men’s basketball program during our exhaustive but rapid national search,” said VCU director of athletics Ed McLaughlin. “Will has an incredible ability to connect with student-athletes and develop them as people. His intelligence, work ethic and knowledge of the game make him a sensational coach, recruiter and ambassador for VCU. We look forward to having Will lead us to an Atlantic 10 Championship on our way to a national championship.”
At his introductory press conference, Wade hit all the right notes, as reported by David Teel of the Newport News Daily Press.
“We’re going to stay nationally ranked,” he said. “We’re going to stay nationally relevant. We’re going to be about winning championships. We’re going to defend our (Atlantic 10) tournament championship and … make sure this program continues to progress and continues to take steps until we are at the Final Four and we win the thing.
Then, “Just so y’all know, Havoc still lives here.”
It hasn’t taken Wade long to live up to expectations and calm the worriers. Two weeks ago he received a verbal commitment for 2016 from ESPN Top 60 prospect De’Riante Jenkins, a 6-6 guard from Eutawville, S.C., who will play at Hargrave Military Academy this season.
Clemson, Georgia Tech, LSU, South Carolina, and Tennessee were also on Jenkins, but it was his relationship with Wade that put VCU over the top.
“Will Wade made him a priority,” Curtis Wheeler, Jenkins’ AAU coach, told Tim Pearrell of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “He was comfortable with Will. Then the tradition at VCU over the last couple of years. People tend to forget VCU has been a very good basketball program throughout its history.
“That and the fan support, the location of the school. He liked the campus. … He felt at home with Coach and the players. He felt like Will not only cared about him, but he saw how he cared for the players on the visit. There’s no way you can fake that.”
Jenkins is the first high-profile recruit to see that VCU will remain special. Havoc still lives in Richmond.
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