By Foster Nicholas | Sports Writer
Usually the NCAA Tournament is no vacation for a team. However, for No. 3-seeded Baylor men’s basketball head coach Scott Drew and his younger brother Bryce Drew, the head coach of 14th-seed Grand Canyon University, they’re having a big-time family reunion in Denver for the round of 64.
By winning the Western Athletic Conference, Bryce and the Pokes clinched an NCAA Tournament berth for second time in three years. On Selection Sunday, the Bears (22-10) drew the No. 3 seed in the South Region, and their first game is to be played in Denver.
Just minutes later, GCU (24-11) were given a No. 14 seed in the West Region, also playing in Denver. Luckily for the Drew brothers, they were each in different regions and wouldn’t have to face off against each other.
At least not yet.
“The biggest thing was in the bracket, it was a blessing we didn’t have to play each other,” Scott said. “We can cheer for each other, and hopefully we can stay around together.”
Scott and Bryce come from a strong head coaching family. Their dad, Homer Drew, was the head basketball coach at Valparaiso University from 1988 until 2011. During his tenure, Homer and Valpo won eight Mid-Continent Conference Championships and led the team to the Big Dance seven different times.
“Families, they’re [a big] part of it,” Bryce said. “They take wins and losses so hard. I don’t know how my dad coached for so long and my mom, how she stood all those wins and losses for so long.”
Just 25 years ago, Bryce sent his dad and the No. 13-seeded Crusaders to the second round with “the shot,” a game-winning buzzer beater to take down the No. 4-seed University of Mississippi. Now, Homer gets to travel to Denver to watch his boys coach at the biggest stage in college athletics.
Pretty convenient location for Pops.
“This is always the pinnacle as a college basketball coach when you can make the NCAA Tournament,” Bryce said. “You want to advance and keep going. This is why you put so many hours in and you work hard to be able to give your players and your school a chance to perform at the highest level in college basketball.”
Bryce arrived at Grand Canyon before the 2020-21 season and took over as the head coach, completely revamping the programing. Scott was able to take Baylor basketball from the depths to a national championship, and Bryce said he hopes he’s on the same track with GCU.
“Proud brother, two of three years [in NCAA Tournament],” Scott said. “[GCU] had never gone before, and now they’ve gone twice in three years. He’s a great coach and does a great job, and you’re always proud when your brother does well.”
In a family that has had success on the court as players and coaches, the accomplishments have been noticed all around the game.
“I love the Drew family. It’s one of — gosh, just one of the greatest, coolest families out there, just how strong their faith is, how close they are,” No. 3-seed Gonzaga University head coach Mark Few said. “I don’t know of any father or son-son lineage that seems to be able to do what they have done. And they’re fun, positive people to be around.”
Even though the tournament has had a bumpy start for GCU, whose practice jerseys, shoes and warm up gear arrived a day late, Scott was right there to help out. The Baylor coach in his 20th season hooked up the Pokes with the team’s secondary warmup jerseys and practice gear.
“Normally that doesn’t happen nowadays with charter flights,” Scott joked. “But I was glad big brother was able to help if they needed whatever they needed.”
The jerseys and all other gear finally arrived and then it was back to business. With the whole family (and their gear) in attendance, the Drew brothers look to make respective deep runs in the 2023 NCAA Tournament.