Vanderbilt University has hired Bryce Drew as head men’s basketball coach, Athletic Director David Williams announced on Wednesday. Drew becomes the ninth Commodore basketball coach of the modern era and 27th all time.
“Our goal was to identify a proven head coach capable of exciting Commodore Nation and perhaps most importantly, able to mirror Vanderbilt’s values and aspirations,” said Williams. “With Bryce Drew we were able to check all those boxes. We are thrilled to welcome Coach Drew and his family to the Vanderbilt community and the great city of Nashville.”
Drew, a three-time Horizon League Coach of the Year and two-time NABC District 12 Coach of the Year, comes to the Commodores after a five-year stint at Valparaiso, where he averaged 25 wins a season, won four regular season championships, and made four postseason appearances, two in the NCAA Tournament and two in the NIT, with the Crusaders.
In his five seasons at Valparaiso, Drew compiled a 124-49 overall record and in 2016, led the Crusaders to a 30-7 overall record, the most wins in program history, and a berth in the NIT Finals at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
He also coached 15 All-Horizon League honorees, including one Horizon League Player of the Year in Ryan Broekhoff in 2012 and one player, Vashil Fernandez, who in 2015 and 2016 won the Horizon League’s Defensive Player of the Year honor, the first player in the history of the league to win two of the awards.
Drew, the most decorated player in Valparaiso men’s basketball history, spent the six seasons prior to his hiring as head coach in May of 2011 as a member of the Valparaiso coaching staff, helping the Crusaders win 102 games.
Drew joined the Valparaiso coaching staff prior to the 2005-2006 season, and over his six seasons on the bench as an assistant/associate helped lead the Crusaders to 102 victories.
Valparaiso 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. In his final season as associate head coach, he helped guide the Crusaders to 23 wins and a postseason berth in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament while receiving votes in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll for four consecutive weeks.
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. Drew’s career culminated as a senior by being named a Third Team All-American by the Basketball Times. He led the Crusaders to four Mid-Continent Conference regular season championships, four tournament titles and three trips to the NCAA Tournament.
Drew, the school’s career leader in points (2,142), three-point field goals (364) and assists (626), etched his name into the American consciousness in 1998 when he hit “The Shot” in the first 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 Sykes, won him an ESPY award and gave Valparaiso 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.
His 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. He competed in the postseason twice as a pro, with Houston in 1999 and with Charlotte in 2002.
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.
Photo Courtesy Vanderbilt Athletics