TOP 10 TAKEAWAYS FROM SHAKA SMART'S ARRIVAL

Shaka Smart says Texas Longhorns' fans are going to "love what they see" when basketball season rolls around. Here are my 10 Top Takeaways from his arrival at Texas.

Top 10 Takeaways from the Shaka Smart press conference:

#1 ... Steve Patterson said Smart got a 7-year contract with 6 years fully guaranteed at roughly $3 million per year. Wow.

#2 ... A handful of scholarship players who hadn't already left for the long Easter weekend attended Smart's press conference and said afterward they're excited about Smart being a players' coach.

"Coach Barnes was old-school," Prince Ibeh said. "Coach Smart is young and full of energy, and I think he'll relate to the players' more. He impressed us when he met with us because he already knew things about us as players. I think this change was probably good for everyone."

When I asked Ibeh how the coaching change could affect sophomore PG Isaiah Taylor, who went home this weekend to talk to his family about his basketball future, Ibeh said, "I think it only helps in terms of Isaiah possibly coming back. But he's probably still 50-50."

#3 ... Smart said he really relied on Charlie Strong to tell him about what it's like to be a coach at Texas and in the Austin community (Smart and Strong were both assistant coaches at Florida in 2008-09). "I really respect the way Charlie goes about his business," Smart said. "So it was good to talk to him this week."

#4 ... When asked if his "havoc" full-court pressure defense can work at a Power 5 program, Smart said it worked pretty well in San Antonio in 2011 when VCU beat Kansas to go to the Final Four.

"In the last six years, my teams have been different," Smart said. "Some have pressed more and some have pressed less. Here at Texas, we have more frontcourt and better frontcourt players than I've typically had at VCU. That means we need to get them the ball. Like any coach, I'll fit what we do to our talent. But we will always be aggressive. When the ball's on the floor, we'll go get it. When the ball's in the air, we'll go get it."

#5 ... Smart said he'll recruit the best players in Texas and nationally. He said after turning down the likes of Maryland, N.C. State, UCLA, Illinois and Marquette, Smart said he picked Texas because it's a world-renowned university that has won 50 national championships and is ranked in the top 20 all-time in college basketball wins. "There's great tradition here, and I want to build on it," Smart said. 

#6 ... When asked about UT needing to build a new basketball arena in the next 5 years, Smart said, "I think my role is to get our current arena as raucous as it can be."

Smart promised an exciting, fast-and-furious playing style.

"You're going to love what you see," Smart said.

#7 ... On being named for the great African warrior Shaka Zulu:

"That name is probably the best thing my father ever gave me," said Smart, whose father wasn't in his life growing up (Smart was raised by his mother in a single-parent home).

"I'm a different person in a competitive environment than I am out of that environment. But you tend to see the Shaka more like my namesake in a competitive environment."

#8 ... Shaka Smart got into Yale, Harvard and Brown and chose to play point guard at Kenyon College (a highly regarded private, liberal arts school in Ohio). Academics are important to him.

"Our team will be bigger than any individual. Academics are very important to me. One thing that attracted me to this current group of athletes is how well they've done in the classroom. I want our student-athletes to have success on the court. But I want them to also have success in the rest of their life. Developing players to me is about developing the whole person."

#9 ... Smart will be the public relations bonus that Steve Patterson needs.

"I can't wait to meet everyone here. It's a little overwhelming. But, to me, that's fun. I can't wait until me and my wife (Mya) are completely engrained in the university and community here."

#10 ... Smart: "My No. 1 core value is appreciation. And I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity to be your basketball coach."

 

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