Heading to Waco, the Longhorns enter their most important stretch of the 2021 season.
The Shaka Smart era at the University of Texas finally came to an end on Saturday, when Marquette officially introduced the former Longhorns head coach as the new leader of its program.
"Maya, Zora and I are absolutely thrilled to join the Marquette family," Smart said in a statement. "I'm grateful to President Lovell and Bill Scholl for entrusting me with the growth and development of this storied basketball program and the student-athletes who make it so special. I am extremely excited to get to Milwaukee to begin building relationships and getting to work on the court!"
Smart leaves the Texas program with a 109-86 record in Austin, leading the school to three NCAA Tournament appearances, an NIT championship, as well as its first-ever Big 12 tournament championship.
It's an impressive record on paper, but where Smart failed with the Longhorns, and where he ultimately lost the grip on his job, was in the postseason, where he failed to lead the Longhorns past the first round of the NCAA tournament a single time in six seasons.
However, Smart how has a chance to start anew once again, and possibly recapture the magic at Marquette that he once held during his time at Virginia Commonwealth -- the job that helped lead him to Austin in the first place, following an improbable run to the final four in the 2010-11 season.
Shaka's credentials speak for themselves. And while he ultimately might not have been the right fit in Austin, his recruiting prowess, as well as his ability to teach and lead young men is second to none at the college level, and should serve him well in the Big East.
"Throughout the search, one individual continued to rise to the top and that was Shaka," Scholl added. "I am beyond excited for our current and future student-athletes who will have the great fortune of being mentored by Shaka. He is a great teacher of the game, while also being a great molder of young men. And I am proud to say, he is now a Marquette Golden Eagle!"
Smart, who made history at Texas as the men's basketball program's first-ever coach of color in 2015, will now do the same for Marquette. Only this time, he will do it from his home state of Wisconsin, where he grew up just over an hour away from Marquette's campus.
"I am so excited for Shaka to lead our celebrated men's basketball program, and I look forward to supporting him for many successful seasons as a Golden Eagle," said Marquette University President Michael R. Lovell. "Shaka will be the first person of color to lead our program and is a true role model for our student-athletes.
Marquette will hold a press conference on Monday, March 29 to formally introduce Smart as the Marquette head coach.
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