CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - Chattanooga has hired VCU assistant Will Wade as the Mocs' new men's basketball coach, hoping his experience helping the VCU Rams develop into an NCAA tournament perennial can get this program back on the winning track.
``Will Wade distanced himself from a strong group of candidates as the clear choice to lead our men's basketball program,'' Chattanooga athletic director David Blackburn said in a statement Monday announcing the hiring. ``He has been a major piece of VCU's success over the last four years and we feel he will bring our program back to a championship level.''
Wade had been on Shaka Smart's VCU staff the past four seasons and Wade helped the Rams make four straight postseason appearances, including three consecutive NCAA tournament trips and the 2011 Final Four. VCU went 27-9 this season and finished with a No. 23 ranking nationally. The Rams are one of only five programs to win 27 or more games each of the past four seasons along with Duke, Kansas, Syracuse and Ohio State.
Now the native of Nashville, Tenn., becomes Chattanooga's 18th head coach all time. He will be introduced Tuesday in Chattanooga.
``I could not be more excited about the opportunity to lead the Chattanooga basketball program,'' Wade said in a statement. ``We will build a program the student-athletes, alumni, and fans all take great pride in. We will employ a fast paced, pressing style of play similar to VCU. I cannot wait to get to work.''
Wade replaces John Shulman, who was fired last month with his last winning season in 2009 when he led the Mocs to the NCAA tournament.
At VCU, Wade worked with the Rams' ``Havoc'' defense, a full-court, pressing style that resulted in a school-record 422 steals in 2012-13 and the 18th highest single-season total in NCAA history. The Rams led the nation in steals each of the past two years.
Smart said in a statement that Chattanooga is hiring an ``absolute star'' in Wade.
``Will is extremely bright, hard-working and diligent,'' Smart said. ``No one will spend more time building relationships with student-athletes than Will. There is no question in my mind that he will be a tremendous success.''
Wade worked at Harvard for two seasons with Tommy Amaker before joining VCU. Wade graduated from Clemson in 2005 and spent six years working with that program between 2001 and 2007 as a student manager for four seasons, a graduate assistant for one and director of operations.
``Will has had a chance to learn and teach under some very impressive coaches and has helped build a successful program everywhere he has been,'' Blackburn said.
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