Smart Joins Clemson Staff

The vital role of recruiting coordinator and assistant coach on the Clemson basketball staff has been filled, has learned.

The official announcement of Kevin Nickelberry's replacement could be made as early as Thursday.

Shaka Smart, who just completed his third season at Akron as an assistant coach and his first as associate head coach, flew to Clemson Wednesday after accepting the job offer from his former boss and Tigers head coach, Oliver Purnell.

Smart, who also coordinated Akron's recruiting efforts, was with Purnell for two seasons at Dayton, where he was the coordinator of basketball operations.

He came to Clemson with Purnell in 2003 to hold the same position, but the stay was little more than a month as he took the assistant job at Akron.

Since his arrival at Akron, the Zips have improved mightily. They finished this season with a 23-10 record, the most wins in the program's Division I era, and notched the school's first Division I postseason victory in the form of an 80-73 overtime win at Temple in the opening round of the NIT.

"He can do it all," Akron basketball coach Keith Dambrot told "He's one of the best and hottest young coaches in the country. You couldn't ask for a better guy."

Smart played collegiate basketball at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and graduated magna cum laude in 1999, with a degree in history. A four-year starter and three-year captain, he holds Kenyon's assist records for a season (184) and a career (542).

As a senior, he was an All-North Coast Conference and the NCAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He was also one of 20 students selected for the 1999 USA Today All-USA Academic team, and received an NCAA postgraduate scholarship.

After graduating from Kenyon, Smart went to California University of Pennsylvania, where he was an assistant coach for two years (1999-2001) and earned a master's degree in social science. Top Stories