For the first time since the 1987-88 season, Valparaiso is expected to have a head coach whose surname is not Drew. That is because multiple media reports are stating that Bryce Drew has agreed to become the next men’s basketball head coach at Vanderbilt.
Valpo was 124-49 in Drew’s five seasons as head coach at Valpo, including 65-19 in Horizon League play. The Crusaders won the Horizon League regular season title in four of those seasons, and won two league tournament championships. They earned a postseason tournament berth in every one of the five seasons, including two NCAA Tournament appearances. Just last week, Valpo played in the NIT Championship after a memorable tournament run, which included setting a school record for wins with 30.
Most would agree that Bryce Drew is also the best player in Valparaiso basketball history. Playing for his father, Homer, Bryce scored 2,142 career points and was a two-time Mid-Continent Conference (now Summit League) Player of the Year. He also led Valpo to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. In a 1998 first round game, he made one of the most famous buzzer-beaters in college basketball history that gave Valpo the win over Ole Miss.
Although it is sad to see Drew leave Valpo, it is not surprising. At this time last year, Drew was in consideration for the head coaching vacancy at DePaul. It was likely he would have accepted the position if offered. His older brother, Scott, just finished his 13th season as head coach at Baylor.
Even though Drew was under contract until the early 2020’s, and likely could have been coach for life if he wanted to, he will likely make around $2 million per season at Vanderbilt. At Valpo, he was reportedly making well-under $500,000 per season.
Do not be surprised if Valpo assistant coach Roger Powell Jr. is promoted to head coach. He is a former star player at Illinois who also played in the NBA. Valpo is a tight-knit program that likes to hire from within, if possible. Although others will interview, Powell Jr. is by far the leading candidate. Even if Drew offers to take him to Vanderbilt as an assistant, it makes more sense for Powell’s career to be a head coach if he can be.
The Vanderbilt job opened up after Kevin Stallings left the Nashville school after 17 seasons to become head coach at Pittsburgh. Vanderbilt is expected to officially announce Drew as the new head coach later this week.