Click video above to see Mike Rhoades complete speech
RICHMOND, Va. -- Mike Rhoades said “I am home” during the official announcement, at a Wednesday morning press conference, that he is now the 12th head coach to lead the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams men’s basketball team.
Rhoades, 44, returns to VCU, where he served as an assistant coach and associate head coach from 2009-14. He was hired by Shaka Smart and worked with the team that made a Final Four run in 2011. He began his coaching career with a nine-year stint at Randolph-Macon in Ashland after he played basketball and graduated from Lebanon Valley College in 1995.
He spent the last three years leading the basketball team at Rice and was recently rumored to be sought after by University of Massachusetts.
Will Wade’s sudden departure to LSU after two years as the Rams' head coach made for a whirlwind of headlines and decisions at VCU.
“Have you ever been in a situation in your life that just feels right?” said Robby Robinson, General Manager of VCU Sports Properties, ahead of Rhoades' introduction. “We’re here right now.”
Rhoades said the position was “a dream come true,” and that everyone knows “he loves RVA and being at VCU.”
“The last 24 hours have been a whirlwind,” Rhoades said. They had about 10 minutes to pack before leaving Texas. Rhoades joked that former VCU player Darius Theus, now on the coaching staff, was waiting this morning with some fresh socks.
With Rhoades at the announcement were wife Jodie, sons Logan and Chase, baby Porter Jane, his mom, and sister.
“We do everything together,” he said. "We've been on this ride a long time, but mom, this ride stops here at VCU."
In his time at VCU, Rhoades recruited and molded elite-level talent, the university said in a statement released earlier.
He played a pivotal role in the development of future NBA players Briante Weber, Treveon Graham and Troy Daniels during his previous five-year stint at VCU, and several others have enjoyed successful professional careers overseas.
Weber was quick to congratulate Rhoades online when the news first broke. “We missed you,” he said. “I want to play now,” he joked and added “…this is better than anything, welcome back.”
Rhoades applauded and shouted out the long line of players who have brought the basketball program championships and acclaim, and celebrated the enthusiasm of VCU fans and the home court.
“This is about the players, he said; “I am here to serve you.”
“To move your forward as young people so you can be unbelievable husbands, fathers, students, professionals and great basketball players – that’s why I’m here,” Rhoades continued.
A few hundred people gathered at the Siegel Center for the announcement. The Peppas, the pep band, played jubilantly as the crowds punctuated moments with chants of “VCU, VCU, VCU” and loud applause.
"We're gonna play fast, we're gonna be exciting, we're gonna go after people and we're going to win,” Rhoades concluded, to thunderous applause.
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