RICHMOND, Va. – For the third time in the past three years, an assistant coach from the VCU Basketball staff will be given the reins of their own Division I program. Will Wade, an integral presence on Shaka Smart's staff over the past four years, has been named head coach at UT-Chattanooga.
"I could not be more excited about the opportunity to lead the Chattanooga basketball program," Wade said in a UTC release. "We will build a program the student-athletes, alumni, and fans all take great pride in. We will employ a fast paced, pressing style of play similar to VCU. I cannot wait to get to work."
The 30-year-old Nashville native becomes the 18th head coach in Chattanooga's 90-year history and takes over a Mocs' squad that finished 13-19 a year ago, including 8-10 in the Southern Conference.
Wade's hire sprouts another branch on Smart's expanding coaching tree. He joins Mike Jones (Radford) and Jamion Christian (Mt. St. Mary's) as VCU assistant coaches that have made the leap to Division I head coaching positions since the Rams' magical Final Four run in 2011.
"I couldn't be more happy for Will," Smart said. "He is an extremely special person who's been a tremendous asset to our program, our players and our staff. Honestly, we were fortunate to have him as long as we did. I am so excited to follow this next chapter in Will's career. UT-Chattanooga is getting a star!"
Considered one of the brightest young assistants in college basketball, Wade was Smart's first hire when he began assembling his coaching staff in April of 2009. The pair met in 2004 and spent time together on Oliver Purnell's staff at Clemson.
One of the major driving forces behind VCU's signature "Havoc" system of high-energy, full-court press defense and up-tempo offense, Wade has watched as the Rams have led the nation in turnover percentage and steals each of the last two seasons.
During his VCU tenure, Wade worked closely with the Rams' post players and presided over the development of Larry Sanders and Jamie Skeen, as well as current All-Atlantic 10 Conference selection Juvonte Reddic.