OFFICIAL: Lander Names Drew Richards Men’s Basketball Head Coach

Photo Courtesy Lander Athletics

Following up on a rumor that first posted on Sunday.

Drew Richards, who has been a part of four NCAA Tournament appearances in the last five seasons, has been selected as the head coach of the Lander men’s basketball team.

“We are thrilled to name Drew Richards as our new men’s basketball head coach,” said Lander athletics director Brian Reese. “In an incredibly impressive field of candidates, Drew stood out. He possesses a great understanding of the game and has had success everywhere he’s been. I know the Greenwood community will be delighted to welcome Drew and his family to Lander.”

“I am honored and excited to be Lander’s next head men’s basketball coach,” Richards said. “Lander University is a special place and the community of Greenwood is one I have always held in high regard. I look forward to being a member of such a well-respected organization. Thank you to Dr. Richard Cosentino and Brian Reese for this opportunity to build the Bearcat men’s basketball program.”

In five years with UNC Pembroke, the last four as associate head coach, Richards helped guide the Braves to a 113-43 record and four NCAA Tournament appearances, including three straight appearances in the last three years. His teams compiled a 72-29 record in Peach Belt Conference play and swept the PBC regular season and tournament championships in 2016-17 and 2017-18. 

His 2018-19 squad achieved a 21-10 record, giving UNCP its third consecutive season with at least 20 wins, advanced to the PBC Touranment semifinals for the third straight year, and earned the program’s third consecutive berth in the NCAA Tournament. During his time with the Braves, Richards was named as one of the top 25 Division II assistant coaches in the country.

Richards came to UNC Pembroke after serving as an assistant coach for one season at Cameron, where he was an integral part of the Aggies’ best conference start in school history in 2013-14. He also was responsible for the tutelage of NCAA Division II Bulletin Preseason Player of the Year Craig Foster who finished the campaign averaging 14.8 points, 4.7 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game.

Richards began his collegiate coaching career at Missouri State-West Plains, where he helped lead helped pace the Grizzlies to a cumulative 63-30 record in two seasons, as well as the 2012-13 NJCAA Region XVI regular season title. His 2011-12 team finished ninth nationally in field goal percentage defense while also setting a program record for fewest points allowed in a season. 

As a player, Richards spent four seasons at Missouri State, where his Bearcats teams averaged 20 wins per season and made three trips to the National Invitational Tournament (NIT). He played in 118 games, making 69 start, including 56 over his final two seasons. He led the team in blocks each of his final three campaigns and currently ranks third in program history in career blocks. 

Richards played professionally for one season with Erdgas Ehingen Steeples, where he finished ninth in the league in blocked shots and 12th in rebounds per game during the 2008-09 seasons. 

Richards earned his bachelor’s degree in public relations from Missouri State in 2008, while also earning his master’s degree in sports science from the United States Sports Academy in 2013. He and his wife, Caeli, have two children, Knox and Benton.

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