Shaka Smart joined Adam Finkelstein on The Upside podcast for a deep dive on Texas Longhorn basketball and much more.
Smart rose through ranks in college basketball after a playing career at Division III Kenyon College. He remains their all time assist leader.
After stops as an assistant at Akron, Clemson and Florida, Coach Smart took the helm at VCU from Anthony Grant. It didn’t take long for him to became one of the hottest young coaches in college basketball.
In 2011 he led the Rams to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in school history, and gave their program a national identify with their “Havoc” style of play.
Since moving to Austin in 2015, Smart has had great success recruiting NBA quality big men. The Longhorns have had first round picks in each of the last 3 NBA Drafts with Jarrett Allen (Brooklyn), Mo Bamba (Orlando) and Jaxson Hayes (New Orleans).
The current Longhorn frontline is one the best in college basketball. Returnees Jericho Sims, Kai Jones, Will Baker will be joined by heralded freshman Greg Brown.
Coach Smart covers a variety of topics with Finkelstein, including:
- Building strong relationships and connections during his career have been critical to Smart’s success. As a result, he tries to instill that same belief in his players and staff.
- The recent commitment of All-American Greg Brown, his potential on the defensive end, and the role he might play for Texas.
- How their program helps freshman transition to the college game.
- The recent development of recruiting in college basketball vs the NBA G-League.
- His impressive coaching tree.
- The most impactful book he’s read.
Recent guests on The Upside podcast include Chris Herren on dealing with addition during the coronavirus, ESPN Director of Recruiting Paul Biancardi, former Chicago Bull Scott Burrell, and Penn State Coach Pat Chambers.