Richmond all abuzz with speculation on Shaka’s next play

Posted at 7:14 PM, Mar 19, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-19 19:14:03-04

On Saturday night in the locker room in Portland, Virginia Commonwealth University head coach Shaka Smart told his players, "Stay together and respond the right way."

After a fall from the tournament, VCU fans are speculating about Smart's prospects and hoping he takes some of his own words of wisdom.

They want the rising young coach to stay in Richmond and decline any potential bidders that come with a coaching offer.

"He's going to get attention because he's a hot item right now," said former University of Richmond coach Dick Tarrant.

Smart is a household name in Richmond. Most credit him with taking VCU's basketball program to new level over the past few years.

Right now he's getting paid $1.2 million dollars a year. But Tarrant believes bigger offers are most certainly on the way.

"We're talking about millions and millions of dollars in the Sweet Sixteen and the Final Four you're talking big time money, it's business," said Tarrant.

There's rumor that the University of Illinois is talking business with Smart.

Their athletic director, Mike Thomas, worked with Smart a few years ago at the University of Akron. The school fired their head coach last week.

Former NBA player and Richmond basketball enthusiast Johnny Newman contends an opportunity like this one is rare.

"The Illinois’, the Kentuckys’, to be able to have one of those is slim to none because the coaches usually stay there," said Newman.

Tarrant says he hopes that despite a bigger program and a bigger pay check Smart will stay at VCU and finish the impressive work he's started.

"They play exactly how he would like them to play and that is coaching," said Tarrant.

Read More: SHAKA SMART: Will he stay or will he go?