Three-time NCAA tournament head coach Bryce Drew will serve as Grand Canyon University’s new men’s basketball head coach.
Mr. Drew replaces Dan Majerle, who had coached the team since the 2013-14 season and posted a 136-89 record with a 13-17 record in the 2019-20 season.
“We are unbelievably excited to have Bryce Drew lead our basketball program into its next phase of development,” GCU President Brian Mueller said in a prepared statement.
“Bryce built a very successful mid-major program at Valparaiso and proved he can recruit at a high level at Vanderbilt but, most importantly, he embodies the Christian mission of the University in how he lives his life both on and off the court.”
Mr. Drew, 45, is rooted in a basketball coaching tree that includes his College Basketball Hall of Fame father Homer of Valparaiso and his older brother Scott, a 17th-year Baylor head coach. The Drew trio has amassed 1,155 college coaching wins.
Mr. Drew becomes GCU’s 14th head coach in a role he has served at his alma mater, Valparaiso, and at Vanderbilt, where he qualified for his third NCAA tournament visit as a head coach in 2017.
He enters GCU with a career coaching record of 164-108, including a program-record season of 30 wins in his final year at Valparaiso.
“It begins with the mission of the University and the vibrant Christian atmosphere and how it’s moved out beyond the campus into the surrounding neighborhoods and the city,” Mr. Drew said in a prepared statement.
“My wife and I fell in love with the campus and the area. Even with the mission and how great the campus is, it has fantastic people.”
Mr. Drew averaged 25 wins per season at Valparaiso and won the Horizon League regular season championship four times during his five-year tenure (2011-16). He led the Crusaders to their first NCAA tournament berth in nine years with 2013 and 2015 visits.
He moved to Vanderbilt to take on the SEC challenge in 2016 and coached his first Commodores team to five wins against top-25 teams and an NCAA tournament berth. He came to the Valley to land his first Vanderbilt recruit, Saben Lee.
“I like building relationships and recruiting is building relationships,” Mr. Drew said.
“To be able to go into a young man’s house and sit down with him to map out his future and then have them achieve those goals and dreams four years later is a great feeling. We love to help young men develop into Godly men and great husbands and hopefully win championships along the way.”
For the past year, Mr. Drew worked as an ESPN studio and game analyst, visited college and pro coaches and spent time with his wife, Tara, and 5-year-old son, Bryson.
His Christian faith has been embedded in his life, as a Fellowship of Christian Athletes member, Athletes in Action player and a coach at faith-based universities.
“GCU is such a unique university and, even with how successful it is now, I think it’s just scratching the surface for where it’s going to end up being,” Mr. Drew said.
“What President Mueller has accomplished in a short amount of time is truly remarkable. I’m excited to get Grand Canyon even more on the national scene so they can see what a wonderful University it is as a whole.”
Mr. Drew played six NBA seasons after being drafted 16th overall by the Houston Rockets in 1998, where he started 41 games in 2000-01. In 1999, the NBA awarded him with the Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Award for sportsmanship.
In a 1998 NCAA tournament first-round game, Valparaiso was trailing 69-67 with 2.5 seconds remaining when his father called for a play with a three-quarter court pass and a pass to a sideline-streaking Mr. Drew. He made the 3-pointer from 23 feet to give the 13th-seeded Crusaders the upset win over fourth-seeded Mississippi. Valparaiso continued its run, beating Florida State in overtime to become the program’s first Sweet 16 team.
As for GCU, Mr. Drew said he’s viewed the program from afar but is already impressed with what it can offer.
“It already has a reputation for a great passion for basketball,” he said.
”I want to come in and win championships. I want to be able to get the school its first berth in the NCAA tournament. We want to recruit and bring on incredible student-athletes that are great representatives of Grand Canyon and the mission.”