Shaka Dingani Smart (born April 8, 1977) is an American men's college basketball coach and former college basketball player. He is the current head men's basketball coach at Marquette University.

Shaka Smart
Smart in 2021
Current position
TitleHead coach
ConferenceBig East
Record75–30 (.714)
Biographical details
Born (1977-04-08) April 8, 1977 (age 47)
Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.
Playing career
Position(s)Point guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1999–2001California (PA) (assistant)
2003–2006Akron (assistant)
2006–2008Clemson (assistant)
2008–2009Florida (assistant)
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
2001–2003Dayton (basketball ops.)
Head coaching record
Overall346–172 (.668)
Tournaments10–11 (NCAA Division I)
5–0 (NIT)
5–0 (CBI)
Accomplishments and honors
NCAA Division I Regional – Final Four (2011)
NIT (2019)
CBI (2010)
CAA tournament (2012)
Atlantic 10 tournament (2015)
Big 12 tournament (2021)
Big East regular season (2023)
Big East tournament (2023)
AP Coach of the Year (2023)
NABC Coach of the Year (2023)
Henry Iba Award (2023)
Big East Coach of the Year (2023)

Smart rose to prominence in 2011 after leading Virginia Commonwealth University to its first and only Final Four appearance in school history in the 2011 NCAA tournament.

Early life, education, and playing career


Smart was born April 8, 1977, in Madison, Wisconsin to Winston Smart and Monica King. Smart's father was not supportive of Smart and left the family in 1994.[1] He grew up in Fitchburg and attended Oregon High School in Oregon, Wisconsin.[2][3][4] Smart, who is biracial, was one of "10 or so" students of color at Oregon High and experienced racism while attending the school. This led Smart to lead a student group which held multicultural events and seminars on homophobia and racism. He has said these experiences helped him develop his competitive drive.[1]

While in high school, Smart played for the Oregon Panthers basketball team. He was a three-year starter as a point guard for the Panthers and set school records for assists in a game (20), season (291), and career (458). His senior season he was named to the All-Badger Conference second team.[4][5]

After high school, Smart attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio on a basketball scholarship. He graduated magna cum laude with a degree in history, focusing on issues of race and the Great Migration. Smart was a four-year starter for the Kenyon Lords basketball team, and set school records for assists in a season (184) and career (542).[2][3][4] As a senior, Smart was named to the All-North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) team and NCAC Scholar Athlete of the Year. Smart was also named to the 1999 USA Today All-USA Academic Team.[3][6]

After graduating from Kenyon, Smart received an NCAA postgraduate scholarship and earned a master's degree in social science from California University of Pennsylvania.[7]

Coaching career


Assistant coach


Smart's coaching career began in 1999 as an assistant coach at California University of Pennsylvania under Bill Brown, his former coach at Kenyon.[6] He followed that with a position as the director of basketball operations at University of Dayton and assistant coaching positions at University of Akron, Clemson University, and the University of Florida.[7][8]

Smart while coaching VCU in 2013

In 2009, Smart was hired as the head coach of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) following Anthony Grant's departure to become the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide men's basketball team.[9][10] At the time of his hiring, he was one of the youngest head coaches in NCAA Division I basketball.[6] In his first season, he led the Rams to a 27–10 record and a CBI Championship after VCU swept Saint Louis in the championship best-of-three series.[11]

Smart's second season began with star forward Larry Sanders declaring for the 2010 NBA draft.[5] Without Sanders, the Rams went 23–11 and played in their second consecutive Colonial Athletic Association championship game, losing to Old Dominion.[12]

VCU was given an at-large bid to the 2011 NCAA tournament. The decision was met with controversy given the Rams 3–5 record that February. They played in the First Four against University of Southern California (USC) for a spot in the main 64-team tournament bracket. VCU defeated USC and upset Georgetown University and Purdue University to advance to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.[1][7] VCU beat Florida State University 72–71 in overtime to earn the school's first spot in the Elite Eight and subsequently upset the top-seeded University of Kansas 71–61 for its first Final Four appearance.[13] The Rams lost to Butler 70–62 in the semifinal game.[2] Smart signed an eight-year, $1.2 million per year contract extension with VCU following the school's loss to Butler.[14]

Smart became the second-youngest coach to win 100 games, with a 90–63 victory over Duquesne University in January 2013.[15]



In 2015, Smart became the head coach of the University of Texas men's basketball team. In his first season at Texas, he led the Longhorns to a 20–13 record and received the sixth seed in the NCAA tournament, which the Houston Chronicle described as having "surpassed all realistic expectations."[2][16] That offseason, Smart received a contract extension which would keep him at Texas through the 2022–23 season.[17]

In May 2017, Smart received a commitment from Mohamed Bamba, the second-ranked overall player in the 2017 recruiting class, to play at Texas.[18] He also received commitments from Gerald Liddell, Brock Cunningham, Jaxson Hayes, and Kamaka Hepa in what was the eighth-ranked recruiting class in the country.[19] Smart led the 2017–18 Longhorns to a 19–15 record. The team lost in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament to the University of Nevada in overtime.[20]

In the 2018–19 season, Smart led Texas to a 21–16 record and a National Invitation Tournament championship, the school's first since 1978.[21]

Smart ended a three-season absence from the NCAA tournament in 2021 when he led the Longhorns to a 19–8 record and a Big 12 conference championship.[22] The Longhorns were given the No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament and were defeated by Abilene Christian University in the first round, after which San Antonio Express-News reporter Nick Moyle questioned Smart's job security. At the time, Smart had two years left on his coaching contract and could be bought out for $7.1 million.[23] Smart left Texas in March 2021.[24]



Marquette University hired Smart to replace Steve Wojciechowski as the Golden Eagles' head coach in March 2021. Smart led the Golden Eagles to 19–13 record the following season, where they lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to the University of North Carolina.[25] In his second season in Milwaukee, Smart led the Golden Eagles to a Big East regular season crown and a tournament championship, despite being chosen in preseason polls to finish ninth in the conference.[26]

At the close of the 2022–23 season, Smart won the Henry Iba Award as the national coach of the year.[27]

Coaching style


At VCU, Smart's teams employed a high-pressure style of play known as "havoc". In this style, offense is based on attacking inside and the defense heavily utilizes full court pressure, double teams, and traps to force turnovers and disrupt opposing offenses. At Texas, Smart employed this style less frequently.[5][6]

Smart has been described as a relationship builder and been noted for his ability to increase team camaraderie.[28]

Head coaching record

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
VCU Rams (Colonial Athletic Association) (2009–2012)
2009–10 VCU 27–9 11–7 T–5th CBI Champion
2010–11 VCU 28–12 12–6 4th NCAA Division I Final Four
2011–12 VCU 29–7 15–3 2nd NCAA Division I Round of 32
VCU Rams (Atlantic 10 Conference) (2012–2015)
2012–13 VCU 27–9 12–4 2nd NCAA Division I Round of 32
2013–14 VCU 26–9 12–4 2nd NCAA Division I Round of 64
2014–15 VCU 26–10 12–6 T–4th NCAA Division I Round of 64
VCU: 163–56 (.744) 74–30 (.712)
Texas Longhorns (Big 12 Conference) (2015–2021)
2015–16 Texas 20–13 11–7 4th NCAA Division I Round of 64
2016–17 Texas 11–22 4–14 10th
2017–18 Texas 19–15 8–10 T–6th NCAA Division I Round of 64
2018–19 Texas 21–16 8–10 6th NIT Champion
2019–20 Texas 19–12 9–9 T–3rd Postseason cancelled due to COVID-19
2020–21 Texas 19–8 11–6 3rd NCAA Division I Round of 64
Texas: 109–86 (.559) 51–56 (.477)
Marquette Golden Eagles (Big East Conference) (2021–present)
2021–22 Marquette 19–13 11–8 T–5th NCAA Division I Round of 64
2022–23 Marquette 29–7 17–3 1st NCAA Division I Round of 32
2023–24 Marquette 27–10 14–6 T–2nd NCAA Division I Sweet 16
Marquette: 75–30 (.714) 42–17 (.712)
Total: 346–172 (.668)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

Personal life


Smart was named after the Zulu monarch Shaka kaSenzangakhona. Though often teased about his name growing up, Smart has said being named Shaka was the "best thing" his father did for him.[7][29] Smart's middle name, Dingani, is a Ndebele word meaning "one who is searching".[6]

Smart is married to Maya Payne Smart, an author and professor at Marquette University. The couple have one child.[30] He has six siblings.[2][8]

Smart campaigned for Barack Obama in Florida in 2008 and Virginia in 2012.[31]

See also



  1. ^ a b c Yanda, Steve (March 26, 2011). "VCU's Shaka Smart is a stand-up type of guy". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e Hart, Mike (March 9, 2022). "What to know about Marquette Golden Eagles men's basketball coach Shaka Smart". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  3. ^ a b c "Shaka Smart". Marquette University Athletics. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  4. ^ a b c Miller, Jack (November 23, 2021). "College basketball: Oregon grad Shaka Smart has Marquette off to fast start". Oregon Observer. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  5. ^ a b c "10 things to know about Texas coach Shaka Smart, including origin of his name, and his own five core values". The Dallas Morning News. May 11, 2015. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  6. ^ a b c d e Nova Lomax, John (April 3, 2015). "Shaka Smart Signed on to Coach the Texas Longhorns Basketball Team". Texas Monthly. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  7. ^ a b c d Branch, John (March 26, 2011). "V.C.U.'s Brightest Star May Be the Head Coach". The New York Times. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  8. ^ a b Tyree, J.M. (March 25, 2011). "My Brother's a Keeper". Slate. Retrieved February 15, 2011.
  9. ^ Medcalf, Myron (October 22, 2021). "'We're going to try to go after it': Shaka Smart is ready to win again at Marquette". ESPN. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  10. ^ Deas, Tommy; Hurt, Cecil (March 27, 2009). "UA gets it's man in Anthony Grant". The Tuscaloosa News. Archived from the original on April 4, 2009. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  11. ^ "Rams beat Billikens to wrap up best-of-three series". ESPN. Associated Press. April 1, 2010. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  12. ^ "Old Dominion lays claim to CAA by fending off Virginia Commonwealth". ESPN. Associated Press. March 7, 2011. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  13. ^ Forde, Pat (March 31, 2011). "VCU coach always proving himself". ESPN. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  14. ^ "Shaka Smart to remain at VCU". ESPN. April 4, 2011. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  15. ^ Pearrell, Tim (January 20, 2013). "VCU blowout gives Smart 100th win". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  16. ^ Finger, Mike (March 7, 2017). "Shaka Smart confident UT's down year an anomaly". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  17. ^ Axson, Scooby (August 26, 2016). "Texas basketball coach Shaka Smart receives contract extension, pay raise". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  18. ^ Moyle, Nick (May 31, 2017). "Shaka Smart: Texas has a chance to take a 'really big jump as a program'". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  19. ^ Moyle, Nick (November 8, 2017). "Texas' Shaka Smart puts together another stellar recruiting class". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  20. ^ Megaree, Steve (March 17, 2018). "Seventh-seeded Nevada rallies, tops Texas 87-83 in overtime". ESPN. Associated Press. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  21. ^ Savitsky, Tyler (April 4, 2019). "2019 NIT championship, bracket, scores: Texas claims title after taking down Lipscomb in New York". CBS Sports. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  22. ^ Trister, Noah (March 19, 2021). "NCAA Tournament success has eluded Smart since VCU run". Associated Press. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  23. ^ Moyle, Nick (March 21, 2021). "After Texas falls short again, Shaka Smart's seat heats back up". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  24. ^ Needles, Dan (March 26, 2021). "Marquette names Shaka Smart as next men's basketball coach". WISN. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  25. ^ Steele, Ben (March 18, 2022). "Marquette's NCAA Tournament drought continues in blowout loss to North Carolina". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  26. ^ "Creighton Chosen for First Place in Preseason Coaches' Poll".
  27. ^ "Marquette's Smart wins 2022-23 Henry Iba Award". United States Basketball Writers Association. March 22, 2023. Retrieved March 22, 2023.
  28. ^ Dauster, Rob (December 7, 2018). "Shaka Smart's coaching tree is thriving as his Texas tenure is slow to start". NBC Sports. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  29. ^ Kirk, Jason (March 28, 2011). "VCU Basketball's Shaka Smart Named After Shaka Zulu: Well, Of Course He Was". SB Nation. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  30. ^ Higgins, Jim (July 21, 2022). "In her new book, Marquette's Maya Payne Smart gives parents of preschoolers practical tips for raising strong readers". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  31. ^ Wise, Scott (May 5, 2012). "Shaka Smart: "I support President Obama"". WTVR-TV. Retrieved February 15, 2023.