VALPARAISO | Bryce Drew put any rumors to rest about leaving the Valparaiso University men’s basketball program with a wide smile and an early wake-up call.
Drew strolled onto the Athletics-Recreation Center floor just after 7 a.m. Tuesday morning for offseason workouts amid speculation that he was linked to the open coaching position at Tulsa, a school that also courted the Valparaiso head coach following the 2011-12 season.
As Drew watched a group which included Alec Peters, Keith Carter, Jubril Adekoya and Clay Yeo, he took a moment to address the rumors and left every indication that he’ll be returning to Valparaiso for his fourth season as head coach next season.
“This is a special group out there,” Drew said. “I’m excited for next year with our guys.”
Drew didn’t specifically comment on Tulsa, just as he failed to specifically comment on Mississippi State two years ago when sources close to the situation stated Drew was a serious candidate for the Bulldogs. What Drew was comfortable commenting on is the impact his players have had on his success. The Crusaders have gone 66-36 over the last three years with three postseason appearances, including a NCAA tournament berth in 2012-13.
“Every year there has been speculation,” Drew said. “That is a great testament to our players and the work that they’ve put in.”
Drew reportedly backed out of an interview with Tulsa two years ago after turning down Mississippi State. Drew’s name was floated in the distance last season for job openings such as those at Northwestern and Minnesota.
Drew signed a 10-year contract extension with Valparaiso last December, a contract which provides stability as he and his wife prepare to welcome their first child this spring.
"I definitely have a place in my heart for Valpo," Drew said at the time of the extension. "Growing up I remember enjoying watching my dad and brother put their passion into building Valpo’s basketball program. Being a Valpo student athlete, I was able to experience everything about the university hands on. With all of that experience here, coming to work does not feel like a job but a part of who I am.”
With the Tulsa speculation in the past, Drew and his coaching staff will continue to recruit for the upcoming season. The Crusaders have two scholarships remaining and a gaping hole in the middle of their roster as Vashil Fernandez is the only true center returning next season.