VCU head coach Shaka Smart has turned down Illinois' vacant head coach position, according to multiple reports.
Illinois had offered him a contract worth at least $2.5 million a year, but CBS Sports' Gary Parrish reported that the 34-year-old decided to turn down the lucrative offer to coach in the Big Ten.
Illinois athletic direction Mike Thomas had zoned in on Smart, who guided VCU to a Final Four in 2011, but the young coach was reportedly hesitant about recruiting in the sometimes sketchy Chicago circles. He's considered to be one of the hottest young coaches in the nation for success at VCU, but appears to be holding out for an elite basketball job.
Smart's refusal puts the Illini in a top spot going forward. The school is looking for a big name to replace Bruce Weber, but might not be happy with its options. Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton is reportedly interested in the position, but the school's interest is lukewarm due to his age (63).
Other potential options include Duke assistant coach Chris Collins and Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin. Martin has a long history to the state of Illinois, but left Missouri State only a year ago for the Tennessee job. He's reportedly interested in the position, but it will be interesting to see whether Illinois will consider him.