RICHMOND, Va. – Over the course of the past week, the world has seen what most fans around Richmond already knew, Shaka Smart is a special coach.
The second-year Head Coach of the Virginia Commonwealth University men's basketball team has guided the Rams into the school record books with a Sweet 16 berth and 53 victories since his arrival.
For the second straight season, Smart was named a finalist for the Ben Jobe Award.
"This award is something very special to me and it's an honor to be recognized by the committee," Smart said. "To be included in a group of not only tremendous basketball coaches, but also tremendous people, it's something I don't take for granted and it's a credit to the hard working staff and players I have around me."
The Ben Jobe Award is presented annually to the top minority coach in Division I men's basketball. Coach Jobe is an icon in the history of basketball at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He is best known as the head coach of the Southern University, a position he held for 12 seasons. He has also head coach at Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Talladega, Tuskegee and South Carolina State.
Joining Smart as a finalist is Tommy Amaker (Harvard), Ed Cooley (Fairfield), Mike Davis (UAB), Anthony Grant (Alabama), Leonard Hamilton (Florida State), Tony Harvey (Texas Southern), Jeff Jackson (Furman), Mike Jarvis (Florida Atlantic), Rob Jeter (Milwaukee), Sydney Johnson (Princeton), Cuonzo Martin (Missouri State), Clifford Reed (Bethune-Cookman), Dave Simmons (McNeese State), Cliff Warren (Jacksonville)and Gary Waters (Cleveland State).
Over his two seasons at the helm, Smart has guided the Rams to a 53-20 mark, which is the most wins over any two-year stretch in VCU basketball history. The Black & Gold have earned two postseason berths under Smart, including a run to the CBI Championship last year and this year's improbable run to the Sweet 16.
Smart will look to take the Rams even deeper into this year's NCAA Tournament on Friday when his squad takes on the 10th-seeded Seminoles of Florida State. Tip time in San Antonio is set for 8:57 CST/9:57 EST.