MILWAUKEE — Marquette University will formally introduce Shaka Smart Monday afternoon as its new head coach for men's basketball.
Smart, a Wisconsin native, most recently coached the University of Texas Longhorns.
Former Marquette and NBA players weighed in on the hire ahead of Monday's press conference.
"He's got a really good background. He probably has more experience as a head coach than just about every other coach we've had even since Al McGuire," said Jim McIlvaine, a Racine native who played basketball for Marquette University before moving on to the NBA.
"First and foremost, you're going to be a leader of young men and I think you have to be a high character to take that position, and Shaka being a hometown guy, Madison native I've heard nothing but good things," said Tony Smith, who is from Wauwatosa and also played for Marquette then went on to the NBA.
Smart has had some success most notably during his time at VCU.
"I think Shaka has proven himself to be very relatable to a lot of the players in today's game and I think we're not gonna see a lot of turnover with the current players on the roster. I think we’re going to see some very talented very good kids come into the program under him," said McIlvaine.
Smart is also the first black coach in the program's history.
Former player and now radio host of the Homer and Tony on ESPN Milwaukee, Smith said Smart's hire is a significant moment as a high number of African American kids play college ball.
"People can underestimate the effect of that seeing someone your own color in a high position being in control of things running an entire program, but also being a guy of great character so it's gonna be a huge boost a lot of different kids," said Smith.
Smart becomes the 18th men's head basketball coach in Marquette history.