Getting To Know New Penn State Hoops Head Coach Mike Rhoades

The Mike Rhoades era of Penn State men’s basketball has officially begun.

Rhoades was hired as the 15th head coach in program history Wednesday following Micah Shrewsberry’s departure for Notre Dame. Rhoades spent the last six seasons as the head coach of VCU, taking the Rams to three NCAA Tournaments and winning the Atlantic 10 tournament this past season.

Rhoades grew up in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, and played high school basketball at Mahanoy City Area High School. He played college basketball at Lebanon Valley College from 1991 to 1995 and was the USA Today Division III National Player of the Year in his final season. He still holds Lebanon’s records for assists, steals, and free throw percentage.

Rhoades’ jersey is one of just five jerseys retired by Lebanon Valley College.

Out of college, Rhoades headed south to Ashland, Virginia, and served on Randolph-Macon College’s basketball staff. He was an assistant coach for three years before earning the head job at 25 years old.

Under the guidance of Rhoades, Randolph-Macon won six Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) championships and the head coach was named ODAC Coach of the Year for three-straight seasons. After 10 seasons with the Division III Yellow Jackets, Rhoades finished with a 197-76 record.

Rhoades remained in Virginia and was an assistant at VCU under Shaka Smart from 2009 to 2014. An integral part of recruiting and developing talent, Rhoades was a part of the staff that eventually led to VCU’s Final Four appearance in 2011.

Smart, who is now the head coach at Marquette, had nothing but great things to say about Rhoades.

“Mike Rhoades is one of the finest college basketball coaches in the country,” Smart said. “His combination of character, relationship building, competitive drive, and basketball IQ is second to none in our industry. His teams defend at a high level, play with great passion, and demonstrate genuine relationships. Most importantly, Mike thrives at helping young men become grown men. Penn State just hit an absolute home run!”

In 2014, Rhoades left Richmond and took over the head coaching role at Rice in Houston, Texas, for three seasons. In the 2016-17 season, he led the Owls to a 23-12 record, the second-most wins in program history and the program’s first 20-win campaign since 2004.

Rhoades returned to VCU following that season as the head coach of the Rams. In just his second year leading the program, Rhoades led VCU to an Atlantic 10 regular-season championship and NCAA Tournament bid.

In the following seasons, Rhoades tacked on two more NCAA Tournament appearances, a first-round win in the NIT, another Atlantic 10 regular-season championship, and an Atlantic 10 Tournament championship.

Jay Wright, former head coach of Villanova and television broadcaster, also had high praise for Rhoades.

“I have known Mike Rhoades since he was a player at Lebanon Valley College. He’s a Pennsylvania guy and is one of the hardest-working, innovative coaches in our business,” Wright said. “I have great respect for Mike and know he will be extremely successful at Penn State.”

Rhoades’ development of high-caliber players is impressive. The 50-year-old worked with VCU’s Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland, Vince Williams, Justin Tillman, Troy Daniels, and more NBA stars throughout his six years with the Rams.

“We are excited to welcome Mike Rhoades as our head men’s basketball coach,” said Penn State Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Pat Kraft Wednesday. “He is a veteran head coach who is a proven winner at multiple levels. Mike has been a tremendous recruiter and talent developer throughout his career. As a Pennsylvania native with a strong family history with our University, Mike understands what it means to be a Penn Stater and how impactful it is to be part of Nittany Nation. Mike has a vision of how to build Penn State Basketball into a championship program.”

Rhoades has his work cut out for him as he assembles his staff and fills out his roster for next season. Amid a likely mass exodus of players at Penn State, Rhoades will presumably rely heavily on the transfer portal.

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About the Author

Owen Abbey

Owen Abbey was a Secondary Education major before he graduated from the wonderful institution known as Penn State. When he was not writing for the blog, he enjoyed rooting for the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens, supporting Penn State basketball and softball, dreaming of all of the ways he would win the TV show "Survivor," and yes mom, actually doing school work. All of this work prepared him to teach his own class of students, which was always his true passion. He still can be found on Twitter @theowenabbey and can be reached for questions and comments at [email protected]

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