Rothstein Files: Shaka Smart Likely Staying Put Plus Other Notes
By Jon Rothstein
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Barring something unforeseen taking place on Wednesday, Shaka Smart will remain at VCU and not fill the coaching vacancy at Illinois, multiple sources confirmed on Tuesday afternoon.
The Big Ten school was offering Smart substantially more annually than his current salary but the monetary benefit is said not to be Smart’s primary concern as long as VCU “continues to move in the right direction as a program”, a source said.
Smart turned down the NC State job last season immediately after he finished leading the Rams to a surprise berth in the 2011 Final Four. He spent the majority of the day on Tuesday recruiting prospects across the East Coast for the Richmond school.
VCU should be a borderline Top 25 team next season as the Rams only’ lose senior guard Bradford Burgess but return every other key piece from the group that lost to Indiana last week in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. VCU also adds Burgess’ brother Jordan, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard who’s a consensus Top 100 recruit in most recruiting services.
THIS AND THAT:
– Wagner is expected to offer its head coaching job to Cincinnati assistant Darren Savino. Savino was one of the finalists two years ago before the Staten Island school hired Danny Hurley, who accepted the Rhode Island job on Tuesday. Savino has been an integral part of the Bearcats’ success over the past two seasons and has deep New Jersey ties after working at both St. John’s and Rutgers while going to high school at St. Anthony of Jersey City. If Savino doesn’t accept the job, look for Wagner to turn its attention to Rutgers assistant Van Macon.
– Former Rhode Island coach Jim Baron is expected to be a prime candidate for the vacancy at Canisius, sources said late Tuesday night. Baron was recently fired at Rhode Island. Should he get the job, it is expected that Baron’s son Billy, a guard at Rhode Island would seek a waiver to play immediately.
– LIU will play Seton Hall next season in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and Rutgers will begin a series with Texas Tech.
– Two things to keep an eye on this time of year — kids who sign with a program whose coach is recently fired and players who’ve graduated that have a year of eligibility remaining. There is no time like the spring for player movement in college basketball.
– I will be in studio with Mike Francesa Thursday at 2 PM to preview the Sweet 16.