Shaka Smart is reportedly the University of Illinois’ top choice to replace longtime head coach Bruce Weber, according to ESPN Chicago. There is no report, however, on whether Smart is interested in leaving his current position.
Smart, 34, has come on to the national stage in the past two seasons as one of the game’s brightest young coaches. In 2011 he helped his team, the VCU Rams, reach the Final Four despite being an 11seed in the NCAA tournament. This year his team was eliminated in the third round, but not after upsetting No. 5 Wichita State.
Despite several serious coaching offers last offseason, Smart signed an eight year, $9.68 million deal to stay with VCU. He will be forced to pay an $800,000 buyout if he leaves. Weber was fired this season after Illinois finished with a 17-15 record, including a 6-12 mark in the Big Ten.