There are 19 active coaches in college basketball who have reached the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament two or more times in their careers. Out of the 19, the youngest is a 43-year-old coach out of Waco by the name of Scott Drew.
Drew has come under a great deal of scrutiny while being head coach at Baylor. Critics point to the fact that Drew has not always gotten the most out of his players, which was accentuated during Baylor’s 2-8 start during Big 12 conference play.
Even though he has his weaknesses, Drew is a victim of the lofty expectations he has set for himself.
It’s virtually impossible to talk about Drew without mentioning the incredible rebuilding job that he has undertaken as coach at Baylor. When he arrived at the school, the Bears were in the midst of one of the biggest scandals in the history of college athletics. Within 10 years, Drew turned the program into a nationally recognizable one.
Drew has also done a masterful job of evaluating and recruiting talent. While at one point, he seemed to rely on having significantly more talent than the other team, that appeared to change this season.
In Baylor’s 2014 Sweet Sixteen run, Baylor’s starting lineup was junior point guard Kenny Chery, a junior college transfer; senior guard Brady Heslip, a three-star; junior forward Royce O’Neale, a Denver transfer; senior forward Cory Jefferson, the 89th-highest recruit per ESPN; and sophomore center Isaiah Austin. Even without the same level of elite talent Baylor enjoyed during its 2012 campaign, Drew found a way to maximize talent and make an unexpected tournament run.
Drew will never be mistaken for the best coach in the country, but he is a guy who gets things done when it counts. Over the last six seasons, Drew has posted a postseason winning percentage of 17-4, which is best in the country over that span.
If Drew were to leave, Baylor would have a daunting task in trying to fill his shoes. While some point to Drew’s success and say Baylor can be a successful program, Baylor is not a basketball school. If Drew left, who would replace him?
The school has not shown any inclination towards putting its resources toward basketball, especially with the recent rise of Baylor football.
When it comes down to it, Baylor basketball’s coaching job is not an attractive situation. Baylor has virtually no history of basketball success aside from what has occurred under Drew.
Anyone who thinks Baylor will put forth the resources to sign a coach like Rick Pitino or Bill Self is fooling themselves.
There is very little allure for a coach to leave a positive situation and come to Waco and follow a coach who became Baylor’s all-time win leader before his 44th birthday.
While he has his shortcomings, Drew has earned done enough in his 11 years as head basketball coach to earn the benefit of the doubt from both Baylor’s fans and athletic department.
Shehan Jeyarajah is a sophomore political science major from Coppell. He is a sports writer for The Lariat.