RICHMOND, Va. Ã¢â‚¬â€œ At the age of 32, Head Coach Shaka Smart is already making his name known around the country after leading the Virginia Commonwealth University menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s basketball team to 22 wins in just his first season with the Rams.
Smart was recently honored for his tremendous success with the Black & Gold by being named one of 15 finalists for the first-ever Ben Jobe Award, which recognizes the top minority head coach in NCAA Division I basketball.
The Award, which is given out by CollegeInsider.com, is named for coaching legend Ben Jobe who spent the majority of his career at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and won 524 games in 31 years. He is best known for his accomplishments at Southern University, where he took the program to four NCAA tournament appearances and one NIT berth.
A 30-member selection committee will vote this month and the winner of the inaugural Ben Jobe Award will be announced at the Final Four in Indianapolis.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is a tremendous honor for me and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s one I wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take lightly,Ã¢â‚¬Â Smart said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s because of the hard work that the players, our staff and everyone that is involved with VCU basketball that I am able to in the listed with all of these great coaches. I look forward to many more great years with VCU basketball.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Highly regarded by legendary head coaches such as Billy Donovan, Keith Dambrot and Oliver Purnell, Smart has led the Rams to their fourth straight 20-plus win season that included victories over Oklahoma, Richmond, Rhode Island, Old Dominion and George Mason.
Smart and the Black & Gold are taking the week to prepare for their postseason destination, which will be determined on Sunday evening.
2010 BEN JOBE AWARD FINALISTS
Tommy Amaker – Harvard
Mike Anderson – Missouri
Tevester Anderson – Jackson State
Tony Barbee – UTEP
Todd Bozeman – Morgan State
Ed Cooley – Fairfield
Mike Davis – UAB
Stan Heath – USF
Ron Hunter – IUPUI
Sydney Johnson – Princeton
Johnny Jones – North Texas
Marvin Menzies – New Mexico State
Shaka Smart – VCU
John Thompson III – Georgetown
Cliff Warren – Jacksonville