Hire Learning: Each day during the Illinois coaching search, basketball writer Paul Klee will offer a thought on the process. Here is today's entry:
If Shaka Smart ultimately is hired as the next coach at Illinois, his introductory news conference won’t be the first time he’s been around these parts.
Sounds like he’s been here before. As an assistant at either Akron or Clemson — one of the two — Smart attended one of the first versions of the Shootout at the Hall.
That recruiting visit would’ve been in 2006 or 2007. And yes, it is within NCAA rules to attend the Shootout at the Hall as a visiting coach. Given the prep talent that rolled through the Assembly Hall in the Shootout’s early years, the smart ones did.
Smart also has recruited in Chicago. As an assistant at Florida, he spent time in the city recruiting former Zion-Benton standout Lenzelle Smith Jr., among others.
Smart leads No. 12 VCU against No. 5 Wichita State in the NCAA tournament on Thursday (6:16 p.m. Thursday, CBS).