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Illinois Could Target Bama’s Grant After Smart Says No

“Thanks, but no thanks.”  That’s what Shaka Smart told Illinois officials who offered him their head coaching job and a salary that was reported to be north of two-and-a-half million bucks per year.  (Anyone else think this guy will someday be stuck at VCU wondering why he didn’t get onboard when his ship came in?)

With Smart turning down the Illini, his old boss Anthony Grant could be next on AD Mike Thomas’ wish list.  It’s no secret that Illinois wants to hire an African-American coach to tap into the inner-city recruiting zones of Chicago and East St. Louis.  Grant is black.  He built VCU’s program before Smart took it over.  And he’s had some early successes at Alabama.

Still, some writers in the Land of Lincoln aren’t wowed by Grant’s resume or personality.  “The names that are mentioned as Plan B, Alabama’s Anthony Grant among them, wouldn’t even enthuse the Anthony Grant Fan Club,” writes Rick Morrisey of The Chicago Sun-Times.  Ouch.

Grant is also just one of a dozen names that have been kicked around when it comes to speculating about Bruce Weber’s successor.  And we at have been told by multiple sources in Tuscaloosa that Bama’s coach is not interested in the Illinois job.

But until he officially shoots down the rumor or the Illini hire a new coach, expect Grant’s name to continue to mentioned in connection to that job.



Yes - I agree that Coach Smart may not look too smart a few years down the road on this decision. What happened to Illinois - I thought they were considered a premier school in a premier basketball conference? That is at least 2 official rejections for their head coach job. Not good.


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