Shaka Smart has flipped the appearance he carried during his rise to prominence coaching the VCU and Texas basketball programs.
After conditioning fans to think he couldn’t grow hair, the Longhorns’ leader emerged from this summer’s COVID-19 quarantine with a conditioned head of curls. His locks aren’t sparse, either.
Smart said after Monday’s win over Davidson that his decision was heavily influenced by his family, who wanted him to show the world he was not a member of the George Costanza club of hair-challenged men. With an undefeated start to the Maui Invitational, he has no reason to alter his approach when Texas faces Indiana on Tuesday. The Longhorns are ranked No. 17 in the latest AP Top 25 poll.
MORE: SN’s preseason college basketball rankings
Smart could have Texas in the top 15 for the first time in his six-year tenure if the team survives this week without a loss. The benchmark, while arbitrary, underlines his struggles in Austin and the potential for a crucial step forward this season.
Texas is littered with seasoned veterans capable of spearheading an NCAA Tournament charge. All three of its leading scorers from last year are back, and five-star recruit Greg Brown has provided a further roster boost.
Yet for now, the talk of the program is hair-related.
I’m still not used to Shaka Smart with hair. That’s… that’s something.
— Rock Chalk Blog (@RockChalkBlog) November 30, 2020