Mike Rhoades leaves Rice to take over at VCU

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Rice coach Mike Rhoades is returning to VCU to become the Rams’ head coach.

The 44-year-old Rhoades spent five years as an assistant to Shaka Smart from 2009-14. He replaces Will Wade, who resigned Monday night to take the same position at LSU.

Rhoades told Fox 26 TV in Houston the VCU job is a “dream come true.” VCU has not officially announced the hire, but scheduled a news conference for Wednesday to introduce its new men’s coach.

“We’re really, really excited about it,” Rhoades told the station on Tuesday. “It’s time to move forward and get going.”

Rhoades had a 47-52 record in three seasons with the Owls. After taking over a team that went 7-23 in 2014, he led them to consecutive 12-20 seasons before this year’s team finished 23-12 and played in the CBI Tournament. The Owls were eliminated in the quarterfinals on Monday.

Wade had a 51-20 record in two seasons in charge of the Rams.

Wade and Rhoades were on Smart’s staff when VCU made an improbable run from the First Four to the Final Four in 2011. The Rams, who play in the Atlantic 10, have reached the NCAA Tournament every season since that memorable March.

Rhoades also has a long history as a coach in Virginia, having spent three seasons as an assistant at Division III Randolph-Macon, located about 20 miles north of Richmond, and then 10 years as the Yellow Jackets’ head coach.

At VCU, he takes over a program that has won at least 24 games 11 seasons in a row, a streak matched only by Kansas. Its NCAA Tournament streak is the longest for any program in state history.

VCU hopes his familiarity with the program, and reputation as a players’ coach, will prevent an exodus of young talent and allow them to hold onto all, or some, of a recruiting class ranked among the top 25 in the nation.