Will Wade addresses fans and reporters at a news conference to introduce the new men's basketball head coach at VCU.
The new head coach of the Virginia Commonwealth University men’s basketball team has a message for fans: “Just so you know, Havoc still lives here,” Will Wade said, to a standing ovation from hundreds of fans gathered at the Siegel Center this morning for an introductory news conference turned pep rally.
VCU announced Wade’s hire on Tuesday. The 32-year-old coach returns to the program he helped lead to the NCAA Final Four in 2011 as one of former head coach Shaka Smart’s assistants.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga hired Wade as its head coach in 2013. In two seasons with the Mocs, he had a 40-25 record, which included the program’s first 20-win season in more than a decade. This past season, he earned Southern Conference coach of the year honors.
When news broke of Smart’s departure for the University of Texas, Wade was immediately thought to be a leading candidate for the VCU job. The university reportedly made an offer to Rice University head coach Mike Rhoades, who also was a former VCU assistant.
“Keeping this in the VCU family was very important,” says Ed McLaughlin, the Rams’ athletic director. Details of Wade’s contract have not yet been made public. He earned just under $190,000 per year at Chattanooga.
At Wednesday’s conference, Wade spoke of continuing the program’s momentum and remaining “player-centric.”
“VCU as a university is on the move. It’s nationally relevant, and that’s how our basketball program will remain,” Wade told the crowd, adding that the team will defend its A-10 tournament championship next season.
In Wade, the Rams have secured a young coach committed to an up-tempo style of play.
However, he faces an immediate challenge in salvaging the Rams’ highly touted 2015 recruiting class. One of the nation’s top-rated prospects, Tevin Mack, reportedly is having second thoughts about his VCU commitment after Smart’s departure, his mother told The Washington Post. Wade told reporters he had spoken to Chesterfield County native Kenny Williams, another VCU commit, and was “reaching out to the other guys today.”
Wade played a role in the recruitment of several of the Rams’ current players, including Jordan Burgess, Mo Alie-Cox, Jequan Lewis and Doug Brooks.
At the beginning of the next season, the Rams will return four starters from last season, as well as a slew of bench players. Guard Melvin Johnson will be the team’s lone senior.