Richards named Head Basketball Coach at UNC Pembroke

Having already served five seasons as an associate head coach during a record-breaking era for the Braves from 2014-19, Drew Richards was announced as the 16th head coach in the 80-year history of the men’s basketball program at UNC Pembroke on Friday.

Richards returns to Pembroke following a 2019-20 campaign that saw him lead Lander to its most regular season victories in 20 years on the way to the Peach Belt Conference Tournament championship and a berth into the NCAA postseason.

“After a national search, it was clear that Drew Richards is the right leader to continue UNC Pembroke’s upward trajectory in men’s basketball,” said director of athletics Dick Christy. “I am very excited to bring him, Caeli and the family back to #BraveNation.”

In five seasons with the Braves, Richards helped guide the Braves to a 113-43 (.724) record and four NCAA Tournament appearances. The Braves compiled a 72-29 (.713) record against conference foes over that span, and captured the PBC regular season and tournament championships in both 2016-17 and 2017-18.

“My family and I are excited to rejoin the UNCP community,” Richards said. “I feel honored to be given the opportunity to lead the Braves men’s basketball program and reunite with these talented student-athletes. It is a privilege to be a part of this program, and we will strive to uphold the values and strong traditions that make UNCP such a special place. I would like to thank Dr. Cummings, Dick Christy, and the administration at UNCP for giving me the opportunity to coach these young men.”

A native of Rogersville, Mo., Richards enjoyed immeasurable success as both a player and coach in the 10 years prior to his move to Pembroke. Following a standout collegiate and professional playing career, he stepped into the coaching world as an assistant at Missouri State-West Plains – a heavyweight in the junior college ranks – and helped pace the Grizzlies to a cumulative 42-20 (.677) record, as well as the 2012-13 NJCAA Region XVI regular season title. As a rookie coach in 2011-12, he helped mold a 21-10 club that finished ninth, nationally, in field goal percentage defense. The squad also established a new program benchmark for fewest points allowed in a season (1,807).

His success in West Plains would inevitably follow him to Lawton 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 also served a brief coaching stint with the Amateur Athletic Union’s (AAU) Missouri Flight organization where he helped place more than a dozen student-athletes into NAIA, NCAA Division I and NCAA Division II programs. He also helped the club achieve multiple top finishes on the AAU, Showcase and Mid-America Youth Basketball (MAYB) circuits.

A four-year letterwinner at Missouri State, Richards played in 118 career games (69 starts) and helped the Bears compile a collective 80-49 (.620) record and three trips to the National Invitational Tournament (NIT). Richards started in 56 games during his final two seasons as a collegian and led the club in blocked shots in each of his last three years in Springfield, Mo. His career was highlighted by a host of honors as well, including the Guy Thompson Award which is given annually to the team’s most outstanding senior on and off the court.

Richards currently ranks third all-time in MSU annals with 132 career blocked shots, while also ranking among the program’s all-time top 10 in games played.

Following a stellar collegiate career, Richards moved on to the professional ranks where he was a fixture in the starting lineup for the Erdgas Ehingen Steeples in Ehingen, Germany. He finished ninth in the league in blocked shots and 12th in rebounds per game in 2008-09.

A color analyst for the radio broadcasts at Missouri State from 2009-11 as well, 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.

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.

“I cannot thank Coach4aDay, LLC and Dan Kenney enough for their assistance with the search,” Christy said. “We had an outstanding pool of candidates with which to choose from, and our interactions with Drew made it clear that he was the next head coach of the Braves.”

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