Rapid Reaction: Smart rejects Illini offer

Illinois will have to move onto Plan B now that VCU coach Shaka Smart has turned down its offer.

The question now is whether Illinois and its athletic director Mike Thomas have a legitimate Plan B.

There have been a lot of names thrown around for Illinois’ search, but no one else has appeared to be a prime target like Smart, who was undoubtedly the big fish Illinois was using all of its resources to try to reel in.

Among the other have names linked to Illinois’ search have been Alabama’s Anthony Grant, Baylor’s Scott Drew, Butler’s Brad Stevens, Duke’s Chris Collins, Stanford’s Johnny Dawkins, Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton, Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall, Kansas State’s Frank Martin, Memphis’ Josh Pastner, Ohio’s John Groce, Simeon high school’s Robert Smith, Washington’s Lorenzo Romar and Reggie Theus.

It could be anyone’s job after Smart passed on it.

Race could still play a factor in Illinois’ hiring. The Illini have never hired an African-American head coach in men’s basketball or football. Thomas has attempted to do so in both sports since being hired last year, but Kevin Sumlin reportedly declined Illinois’ football offer and now Smart has done so in basketball.