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Coaching Carousel: Is VCU's Mike Rhoades the Nation's Hottest Coaching Commodity?

Every year there seems to be rumors that pop up about Shaka Smart's long term future, could this year's rumors center around his top assistant instead?

A lot of people continually speculate where VCU's Shaka Smart might eventually end up as a head coach. It's become an annual ordeal in late March for Smart's name to pop up in every major coaching search around the country. Rumors swirl from Maryland to Illinois to UCLA but the results are another extensions and raise for Smart. Those rumors are sure to kick up again after the Rams' first round exit at the hands of Stephen F. Austin on Friday but will the rumors center around the right guy?

Mike Rhoades has been Shaka Smart's top assistant since Anthony Grant left VCU for Alabama and Rhoades is just as meticulous in his career as Smart is. While other assistants have taken opportunities at other mid-majors, Rhoades has remained at VCU by Smart's side.

VCU assistants have proven to be successful on their own thus far. Mike Jones has totally rebuilt a Radford program that was left in turmoil thanks to Brad Greenberg, Jamion Christian just won an NEC title at Mount St. Mary's, and Will Wade unleashed CHAOS at Chattanooga this year with an 18-15 mark in his first season. With all this success what is Rhoades waiting for?

He was the head coach at Division III Randolph-Macon, where Wichita State's Gregg Marshall got his start, and had a 197-76 mark in 10 years with the Yellow Jackets. Rhoades had Randolph-Macon as the nation's number one team at one point, appeared in the Sweet 16, and garnered several Coach of the Year honors.

You've likely heard Rhoades name pop up before because there have been no shortage of rumors. At one point he was thought to have accepted the Radford job before backtracking and handing it over to Mike Jones. Rhoades has also come up in rumors from recent searches with Siena, Boston University, FIU, Northwestern, and plenty of other spots.

With the coaching carousel spinning once again in jobs in conferences like the CAA, Atlantic 10, MAAC, and others open or poised to open up, will this be the year Rhoades moves out on his own? With the Rams season now over the rumors will most certainly kick up from places like Wilmington, North Carolina to Dayton, Ohio depending on which way the coaching winds blow.