Multiple reports have stated that Chattanooga head coach Will Wade will be the next head coach of the VCU Rams. Wade was thought to be "Plan B" for VCU after negotiations with Rice head coach Mike Rhoades stalled on Monday. So what does this mean for VCU?
On the upside Wade is a young, intelligent, and energetic head coach. At age 32 he's risen up the ranks from a student manager at Clemson to the recruiting coordinator at Harvard to an assistant at VCU. He's driven by goals and has established a system crafted after VCU's HAVOC which he calls CHAOS. The up-tempo, pressing style has very specific goals that were prescribed for the Mocs:
CHAOS: Offensive Goals
1) Lead the Southern Conference in Scoring
2) Top 20 Nationally in TO Margin
3) Top 40 Nationally in Offensive Rebound Pct.
4) Shoot 35% or better from 3pt Range
5) Average 67+ Possessions per Game
CHAOS: Defensive Goals
1) Top 3 in the Southern Conference in Scoring Defense
2) Top 20 Nationally in Steals
3) Top 20 Nationally in Turnovers Forced
4) 35 or more Deflections per Game
5) 8 or more Student-Athletes with Positive Scores on the Effort Chart Each Game
Wade looks great on paper, especially since he's gone 40-25 in two years at Chattanooga. With that being said is this a good hire for VCU?
I usually grade the coaching hires towards the end of the cycle and if I had to grade this one now I'd give it a C+. It's not a knock on Wade but rather a tip of the cap to VCU's growth over the last decade. I don't see Wade maintaining or raising the programs success in the next four to five years. Could he have immediate success? Sure. But it's because of the Ferrari of a program he's been given on Broad Street.
Simply put, Wade hasn't been tested yet and he hasn't won with "his guys". At Chattanooga Wade inherited a one man wrecking crew his first year in Z Mason. Mason was a special player who ended the season averaging over 18 points and 9 rebounds per game. Casey Jones, Ronrico White, and Gee McGhee were the other inherited lynchpin to the Mocs' success and McGhee even transferred away to Murray State. Wade's biggest in-house contributors to this point have been Justin Tuoyo, who he brought from VCU, and Greg Pryor.
It's a totally different ball game for Wade now and there is no way he's going to be able to garner the respect in living rooms that Shaka Smart does. But to be fair, few do. Wade's staff selection is essential to VCU's immediate and long term future in the Atlantic 10 and on the national stage.
The other knock on Wade is the continued development of his in-game prowess. He's young, it takes time but the success hasn't been there just yet with a 0-3 postseason mark thus far in his career. He has gone toe to toe with Mike Young at Wofford beating the Terriers three out of four times but that's about the biggest feather in his coaching cap to this point.
VCU brought in its best recruiting class ever last year and this year they have a very solid class with local product Kenny Williams and out-of-towners Tevin Mack and Jordan Murphy. Wade will get to make his case to those three as well as his current players but sources have already told me to not expect the Rams roster to stay fully intact and expect some of the prior commitments and signees to head elsewhere. When it comes to the current roster, Wade has the strongest ties with Melvin Johnson, Mo Alie-Cox, and Jordan Burgess.
Time will tell for Ed McLaughlin's first men's basketball hire at VCU. He certainly had a short list in mind coming into the search but this process certainly seemed to be rushed and closed minded a bit. Wade has a tremendous amount of opportunity at a very young age which isn't new to the Siegel Center at all.