Valparaiso University director of athletics Mark LaBarbera announced at a press conference on the Valparaiso campus Tuesday morning that Bryce Drew has been hired as the 21st head coach in the history of the Crusader men's basketball program.
“We are pleased to have quality leadership within our basketball program by hiring Bryce Drew,” said LaBarbera. “Bryce has demonstrated a strong commitment to the University's values and ideals and a strong commitment to student-athletes. His life-long connection to successful basketball has prepared him well to assume the head coaching role at Valparaiso University.”
Drew, the most decorated player in Crusader men's basketball history, has spent the last six seasons as a member of the Valparaiso coaching staff, including the last five years as associate head coach under outgoing head coach Dr. Homer Drew, who announced his retirement from the position earlier Tuesday. Drew, who has helped guide Valpo through their transition into a top-ten league in the Horizon League, becomes just the fourth new head coach of the Crusader men's basketball program in the last 31 years.
Drew joined the Valparaiso coaching staff prior to the 2005-2006 season, and over his six seasons on the bench helped lead the Crusaders to 102 victories. With Drew on the staff, Valpo moved into the Horizon League in 2007-2008 and returned to the postseason with a trip to the College Basketball Invitational, where it won its first-round game at Washington. This past season, Drew helped guide the Crusaders to 23 victories, their highest win total in ten seasons. This year's Valpo squad finished just one game back of a share of the Horizon League regular season championship, and earned a postseason berth in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament while receiving votes in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll for four consecutive weeks.
Over his tenure as a member of the Crusader coaching staff, Drew has coached 13 players who have gone on to play professional basketball overseas. He has helped coach Valparaiso as it has led the Horizon League in scoring twice, while the Crusaders paced the conference this past season in defensive field goal percentage in league play. Valparaiso also set the Horizon League single-season record for 3-pointers made (330) during the 2007-2008 season. Drew has been recognized among the league’s and nation’s top assistant coaches by Hoop Scoop and Jeff Goodman of FoxSports.com and also has been named among the Top Recruiters of Chicago by the Chicago Sun-Times.
As a student-athlete, Drew cemented himself as the best player in Valparaiso men's basketball history. Drew, who arrived at Valpo after earning Indiana Mr. Basketball honors and being named Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year in 1994, began his career by garnering Mid-Continent Conference Newcomer of the Year and Mid-Con Tournament MVP honors as a freshman. Drew, a four time All-Conference honoree, shined during the conference tournaments, earning All-Tournament Team honors each of his four seasons and picking up three Mid-Continent Conference Tournament MVP awards. He was also twice decorated as Mid-Con Most Valuable Player, one of only four players to be so honored twice in their career.
In addition to his individual accolades, Drew led the Crusaders to four Mid-Continent Conference regular season championships, four tournament titles and three trips to the NCAA Tournament. Drew, the career leader in points (2,142), three-point field goals (364) and assists (626) at Valpo, etched his name into the American consciousness in 1998 when he hit “The Shot” in the Opening Round of the NCAA Tournament to beat Ole Miss. The play, in which Drew caught a tip pass from teammate Bill Jenkins off a full-court feed from Jamie Skyes, won Drew an ESPY award and gave Valpo its first NCAA Tournament win in school history, propelling the Crusaders to the Sweet Sixteen.
Drew also excelled internationally during his time on the court with the Crusaders, playing for the gold-medal winning Team USA at the World University Games in 1997. Following his collegiate career, Drew again made school history when the Houston Rockets drafted him with the 16th pick in the 1998 NBA Draft, the first time a Crusader had been chosen in the first round. Drew’s NBA career lasted six seasons with the Rockets, Chicago Bulls, and Charlotte and New Orleans Hornets, with his best season coming in 2000-2001 when he started 41 games for the Bulls, averaging 6.3 points and 3.9 assists per game. A prolific shooter, Drew set a Hornet record when he connected on nine consecutive three-point attempts. Twice as a pro, he competed in the postseason, with Houston in 1999 and again in 2002 as a member of the Charlotte Hornets.
Over the course of his NBA career, Drew scored over 1,000 points and made 37% of his three-point attempts. In 1999, he was honored by the NBA with the Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Award for sportsmanship. Drew played alongside 12 NBA All-Stars during his time in the NBA, including three players who were named among the Top 50 NBA Players of All Time. He also played under a quintet of head coaches who have combined for five NBA Championship rings. Following his six seasons in the NBA, Drew played professionally overseas for a season, playing for Reggio Calabria (Italian Serie A) and Pamesa Valencia (Spanish Liga ACB) before returning to the States to join the Crusader coaching staff.
Drew is twice a member of the Valparaiso University Hall of Fame, as he was inducted as an individual in 2003 and as part of the 1997-1998 Sweet Sixteen team in 2009. He also has been honored as one of the 150 most influential people in Valparaiso University’s 150 years. Drew graduated from Valparaiso University in 1998.