VCU Welcomes Rhoades Back, He Says Career Ride ‘stops Here'

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Mike Rhoades received what felt like a hero’s welcome as he returned to Virginia to become the men’s basketball coach at VCU.

The popular former assistant Wednesday was re-introduced to Rams fans at the Siegel Center, where his work over five years with Shaka Smart endeared him to the VCU faithful. A crowd of several hundred people, many on their lunch break, welcomed him with a standing ovation and raucous cheers.

“This is a dream come true to me and my family to be the head coach at VCU, to be standing here representing the Rams. I’m truly humbled and very appreciative,” Rhoades told the crowd. He later thrilled them even further, assuring them that unlike his predecessor Will Wade, who left after only two years for LSU, he is home.

“We’ve been on a ride for a long time and the ride stops here,” he said, drawing perhaps the loudest cheers during his remarks.

“This is home. This is home and I love it here, my family loves it here,” he said later, adding that when his flight arrived Tuesday night there were more than 20 friends he considers family to greet him, his wife and three children. “Our roots are already here. We just came back to connect them.”

Rhoades’ return, announced within 24 hours after Wade resigned, comes after he spent the last three seasons turning around the program at Rice. The Owls won 23 games this season, one short of their winningest season ever, and played in the CBI Tournament. The year before Rhoades’ arrival, Rice finished just 7-23.

At Rice, Rhoades compiled a 47-52 record.

Wade’s resignation shook the VCU fan base, but athletic director Ed McLaughlin said he knew immediately who he wanted to be the next coach “and got right into action.”

The AD said he met with the basketball team Tuesday morning told then the next time they saw him, he’d be accompanied by their new coach. McLaughlin then flew to Houston, reached an agreement with Rhoades and returned Tuesday night, with Rhoades and his family, for another team meeting.

McLaughlin said Rhoades “made it clear, from the first two or three minutes we talked, that this is the place he wants to be forever.”

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More AP college basketball: www.collegebasketball.ap.org

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