NCAA VCU Saint Marys Basketball

Virginia Commonwealth coach Will Wade reacts during the first half of the team's first-round game against Saint Mary's in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Thursday, March 16, 2017, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Rick Bowmer

The search for a new LSU’s men’s basketball coach ended Monday night, 10 days after fifth-year coach Johnny Jones was fired.

LSU announced that Virginia Commonwealth coach Will Wade, generally regarded as one of the nation’s top up-and-coming coaches, will take the reins of the program.

The tweet on the LSU basketball team’s official Twitter account read: “Sweet dreams Tiger fans. It’s official!” It included a photo of Wade holding a basketball with the words, “Welcome Head Coach Will Wade.”

Citing unnamed sources, ESPN reported the school agreed to a six-year deal with Wade, who coached the past two seasons at VCU. Financial terms were not immediately available.

Amid a report Monday afternoon that the 34-year-old Wade was going over basketball budgets and resources, a source told The Advocate the new coach was expected to travel to Baton Rouge as early as Monday night.

A day after a quick Sunday plane trip to Richmond, Virginia, LSU athletic director Joe Alleva reeled in the coach he hopes will get the program on track after a 10-21 season ended with a 27-point loss to Mississippi State in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament March 8.

Just two days later, Alleva made a change when he fired Jones, who was 90-72 in five seasons at his alma mater, and his three assistant coaches. At the time, Alleva said he and his staff would conduct a nationwide search to find the program’s 22nd head coach.

Wade led VCU to the NCAA tournament in each of his two seasons at the school. His team went 26-9 this season and was eliminated by Saint Mary’s 85-77 in a first-round game Thursday night.

After the 2016 season, Wade received an eight-year contract from VCU that paid him $1.4 million in base salary and supplemental pay as well as incentives that totaled $140,000 this season, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

He was scheduled to earn $1.5 million next season, the same amount Jones was paid and was set to make in each of the final two years of his contract. Wade had a $1 million buyout in his contract, the paper reported.

Will Wade is LSU’s new basketball coach. The word “new” has a lot of facets to it when it comes to Mr. Wade, the now former VCU coach who won’t be 35 until late November after the Tigers — his Tigers — have tipped off the coming season. LSU’s bringing in a coach whose initial warranty is still valid, one who will get carded if he orders a glass of wine at dinner.

Following a disappointing 2015-16 in which it failed to make the NCAA tournament, LSU slumped badly this season. The Tigers suffered through a school-record 15-game losing streak and finished 2-16 in SEC play — the program's worst league record in 50 seasons.

When Jones, an LSU graduate and former assistant coach to Dale Brown, was relieved of his duties, Alleva said he and his staff would search for a “proven winner” to take over the program.

It didn’t take long to zero in on Wade, a Nashville, Tennessee, native who was on Vanderbilt’s radar a year ago when the Commodores eventually hired Bryce Drew.

Prior to his two-year stint at VCU, Wade was the head man at Chattanooga for two seasons. He compiled an overall record of 91-45 (.669) by going 40-25 at Chattanooga and 51-20 at VCU, where he was an assistant coach for four seasons under Shaka Smart from 2009-13.

When Smart left for Texas in 2015, Wade returned to VCU and went 25-11 in his first season — earning a share of the Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season championship. VCU defeated Oregon State in the first round of the NCAA tournament before falling in the second round to eventual Final Four participant Oklahoma 85-81.

This season, Wade led the Rams to a second-place finish behind Dayton in the A-10 regular-season race. Among his team’s 26 victories was an 85-74 win over LSU in the Battle 4 Atlantis in The Bahamas on Nov. 25.

No. 2 seed VCU fell to fourth-seeded Rhode Island in the championship game of the conference tournament but was rewarded with an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

Wade, a former student manager at Clemson, also spent time on the staffs at that school and Harvard.

He was named Southern Conference Coach of the Year at Chattanooga in 2014 for leading his team to a second-place regular-season finish as a 31-year-old rookie head coach. That season, the Mocs earned a spot in the tournament and lost in the first round.


Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.