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This son also rises

BRYCE DREW

High school career: 1994 Mr. Basketball and Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year at Valparaiso.

College career: Mid-Con Newcomer of the Year in 1995. … Four-time all-conference. … Two-time Mid-Con Player of the Year. … VU’s all-time leader in points (2,142), 3-pointers (364), assists (626).

Pro career: Drafted in first round (16th overall) by Rockets. … Played two seasons for Rockets, one for Bulls, three for Hornets. … Started 41 games and averaged career-best 6.3 points and 3.9 assists per game with Bulls in 2000-01.

Coaching career: Assistant at VU, 2005-06, associate head coach, 2006-11.

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



VALPARAISO — Bryce Drew was in a gym “recruiting” at age 4. He was in the bleachers hearing fans loudly bash his father at age 7. He spent four years as an elite high school talent — Mr. Basketball in 1994 — burdened with unyielding expectations. Four years as a college star in his hometown playing under his father’s watchful eye. Six years in the rough-and-tumble NBA.

So he’s not too concerned about cries of nepotism or inexperience, or toiling in the long shadows of his father and brother, or the extra scrutiny he’ll face as the new head coach at Valparaiso.

“You develop a tough skin,” the 36-year-old Drew said.

Besides, he knows the quickest way to silence any of his doubters is to win — and win big.

“My dad, I’m extremely proud of what he’s accomplished. My brother, I’m extremely proud of what he’s accomplished,” Drew said. “They have their legacies. They have accomplishments they can read off for hours. That’s not my goal. My goal is to take Valpo to the next level. We were one shot short of the Horizon League title this year, and in a way, I’m kind of glad we didn’t do it. It leaves me with one thing we didn’t do yet at Valparaiso University. So thanks, Dad, for leaving me one thing to do.

“We want to win the Horizon League championship, we want to go to the NCAA Tournament and we want to advance. We want to leave our own legacy and our own imprint on this university.”

Bryce Drew has been the heir to the throne at VU for some time now, so his ascension came as no surprise to anyone. Over the past couple of seasons, recruits were assured that if Homer Drew ever retired, Bryce would get the job. And university president Mark Heckler said the school decided against a national search for a new coach because officials felt they had the right man already.

Athletic director Mark LaBarbera pointed to the recent promotions of Butler’s Brad Stevens, Green Bay’s Brian Wardle and Wright State’s Billy Donlon.

“If you look across mid-major basketball, the schools that are very successful at our level have a clear plan of internal succession,” LaBarbera said.

And the transition has been in the works. Bryce Drew’s job as associate head coach last season was quite different than his job as assistant coach back in 2005.

“You were starting to realize during practices that Coach Bryce was taking over a little more and you could tell it was becoming a mentoring situation,” said VU forward Kevin Van Wijk. “He was taking over a lot already, with coaching, making plays, watching film and recruiting.”

Baylor coach Scott Drew — who took over at VU for one season after Homer’s first retirement in 2002 — said his brother will be more prepared than your average first-time head coach — just like he was.

“Some (first-year) coaches really don’t know a lot, and it’s tough when an assistant takes over that first job,” Scott Drew said. “But my dad does such a great job of delegating and dividing responsibility. The last few years, he did more and more of that with me, and he did that for my brother, too. So when you become a head coach, the transition is much easier because of what he’s done as far as delegating.”

One responsibility Bryce Drew always has had is to be VU’s lead recruiter. His NBA credentials go a long way while talking to a wide-eyed high school kid, but he thinks it’s his enthusiasm for the town he moved to as a 14-year-old and returned to as a 30-year-old that will win over the players VU needs to reach that next level.

And while Scott Drew moved on quickly to Baylor, the consensus at Tuesday’s packed press conference was that Bryce sees himself as a VU lifer, much like his father.

“It’s easy for me to sell Valpo,” he said. “I can speak from the heart because I do think this is a tremendous place, and that we can give them a tremendous opportunity.”



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