All Rhoades lead home: Mike Rhoades replaces Will Wade

The VCU Athletics Department confirmed former assistant Mike Rhoades is returning to VCU as head coach Tuesday evening, following the departure of former head coach Will Wade for Louisiana State University Monday night.

“This is a dream come true, to be here representing the Rams,” Rhoades said. “I am truly humbled. I love RVA and VCU.”

Rhoades is not an unfamiliar face to RamNation — from 2009-14, the Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania native served as assistant coach and associate head coach under Shaka Smart.

Rhoades was essential in recruiting and developing the players who led the Rams to the unforgettable Final Four appearance in 2010-11. During his first go around with the Black and Gold, VCU reached the NCAA Tournament four times and appeared in the postseason all five years. The Rams were 137-46 during that period and won the 2012 CAA Championship.

“This is a dream come true, to me and my family, to be the head coach at VCU,” Rhoades said. “When Ed contacted me, I was fired up. I’m home. This program has been, and always will be, about the players.”

Rhoades didn’t take long to start building relationships in a VCU community he said he has always dreamed of coming home to. Rhoades met with current VCU players Tuesday night upon arriving in Richmond, and his first actions after the press conference were to seek out the players watching in the stands and shake their hands.

“Coach Rhoades is a VCU great,” tweeted former VCU point guard and last season’s leading scorer JeQuan Lewis. “Y’all will love him just as much — one of my all-time favorite coaches I was able to play for.”

Former VCU point guard Joey Rodriguez, who led the Rams to the Final Four in 2011, was a member of Rhoades’ staff at Rice. Rodriguez was in attendance Wednesday’s press conference, and Rhoades said the two will continue coaching alongside one another at VCU.

“When it’s never about you and all about the players and program, good things happen,” tweeted Rodriguez March 21.

Fans found more ease in the coaching change when 4-star recruit Sean Mobley confirmed on Twitter on March 24 he’s not going anywhere, despite Wade’s departure.

“I’m not going anywhere!! RAM NATION OR NO NATION It’s time to follow Coach Rhoades to the promise land! Let’s get to work!!” Mobley said.

Meanwhile, the unceremonious departure of former coach Wade has been received with mixed emotions, heavily due to his abrupt departure. According to sources, it appears the players found out about the news from social media rather than Wade himself.

“Called it,” tweeted VCU junior forward Justin Tillman immediately after the news broke online.

Wade is the second high-profile VCU coach to depart for a “power-conference” school with a successful football program in three years, and the VCU fanbase and players expressed everything from betrayal and resentment to respect and well-wishes.

“Congrats Will,” tweeted former Ram Briante Weber. “Sometimes you do what you have to.”

VCU has made the past seven NCAA tournaments and won at least 24 games in each of the last eleven seasons.

The greater Richmond area is a top-50 national market, yet lacks a professional sports franchise closer than Washington D.C.

VCU basketball is synonymous with an up-tempo, high pressure style of play — the school trademarked the term “HAVOC” after Smart’s departure.

Despite the turnover in coaching regimes, the extensive VCU fanbase expects to win, and to do so in a manner congruent with the personality of the program.

Rhoades, who’s Rice team ranked 18th nationally in tempo last season and 21st in scoring offense with 81.5 points per game, is aware of the challenges associated with the job he accepted.  
“We’re gonna play fast, we’re gonna play exciting, we’re gonna get after people,” Rhoades said, “and we’re gonna win.”



Sophia Belletti. Photo by Julie TrippSophia Belletti
Sophia is a junior journalism major pursuing a minor in gender, sexuality and women’s studies. She enjoys writing about current events and sports, and hopes to one day be a sports reporter covering soccer, basketball and/or baseball. You can usually find Sophia drinking way too much coffee and laughing at her own jokes.
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Zach Joachim. Photo by Julie TrippZach Joachim
Zach is a junior pursuing a dual degree in print journalism and English. A proud Norfolk-ian, he enjoys long walks on the beach, English literature of the romantic period and anything pertaining to Harry Potter or baseball. Zach is an avid Red Sox and Patriots fan who can usually be found working at the Student Media Center or running along the James.
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Erin Edgerton, Staff Photographer 

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