Texas Basketball: Shaka Smart Comments on Assistant Taking Head Coaching Job

Chris Dukes

Former Texas assistant coach Luke Yaklich has taken a head coaching job at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

Yaklich came to Texas for the 2019-20 season after serving as an assistant at Michigan. While on the Wolverines' staff under John Belein Yaklich quickly added his name to the ranks of up-and-coming assistants thanks to the strong defenses he helped field. He was a big part of the Wolverines 2018 Final Four run. 

After Belein left for the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers Yaklich came to the Forty Acres in hopes of kindling the same kind of defensive magic with the Longhorns. At times it worked. During Texas' five-game winning streak that brought the team tot he brink of making the NCAA Tournament field the Longhorns didn't allow an opponent to score more than 60 points. 

Texas head coach Shaka Smart had nothing but positive words to say about his former assistant, wishing him the best possible fortune in his new endeavor. 

“I’m extremely excited for Luke and his family about this terrific opportunity at UIC," Smart said in a statement. "We’re grateful for his strong contributions to our program this past year and look forward to watching his success this next season and beyond.”

The question still remains as to what will happen to Smart. Many believed the Texas head coach's job depended on an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2020. With the season canceled early, it will never be known whether the Longhorns would have made the field and fulfilled that hypothetical condition of employment. 

With each passing day, it becomes less likely that Smart and the program will part ways, though there has been no definitive answer from either party. The short comment on Yaklich's hiring was the first the media has heard from Smart since the team abruptly left Kansas City before its first scheduled Big 12 Tournament game. 

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