SMART EARNS NATIONAL COACH OF YEAR HONOR FROM NSSA

SALISBURY, N.C. – Just a few days after he was a distinquished guest at the White House Correspondant's Dinner, Head Coach Shaka Smart was being honored on the national stage once again.

This time, Smart was named the Division I recipient of the first-ever Clarence E. "Big House" Gaines College Basketball Coach of the Year award by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association & Hall of Fame.

"It's quite an honor to be recognized on a national level and I want to thank the NSSA for this award," Head Coach Shaka Smart said. "My coaching staff and the 14 guys in that locker room are the reason for this and I'm blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of it."

In his second season at the helm of the Black & Gold, Smart guided the Rams to a historic NCAA Tournament run that gained the attention of the whole country. VCU reeled off five consecutive victories in the NCAA Tournament and reached the school's first-ever Final Four after defeating national power and top-seeded Kansas in the Southwest Regional Final .

The Madison, Wisc. native has made the most of his first two years with the Rams, recording 55 wins, the most of any two-year stretch in school history. During that span, the Black & Gold are an impressive 10-1 in postseason tournaments under Smart.

After the unforgettable NCAA Tournament run, Smart inked a new eight-year deal that will keep him and his wife Maya in Richmond a little longer.

"My wife and I love it here at VCU and 100% of my focus is on making this program better on a daily basis," Smart said.

The award will be presented at the NSSA's 52nd Annual Awards Banquet on Monday, May 14th. It is named for Gaines (1923-2005), who was best known for the 47 seasons he spent as head coach at Winston-Salem State University. Over that time, his teams won 823 games, including the NCAA Division II National Championship in 1967.

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