According to multiple sources, Vanderbilt's coaching search has landed on a final candidate. The Commodores will hire Valparaiso head coach Bryce Drew to lead their basketball program in 2016 and beyond.
Bryce Drew has helmed the Crusaders for five seasons and never finished a year with a losing record. His teams have qualified for two NCAA Tournaments and two NITs in his brief tenure as head coach. Before taking his father's former position on the sideline at Valparaiso, he carved out a successful college and professional career. He spent six seasons in the NBA and made his name as a Cinderella sigil after chopping down Ole Miss with a buzzer-beating three in the 1998 NCAA Tournament.
Here's what people are saying about the reported hire:
Vanderbilt has targeted Valpo’s Bryce Drew and is closing in on a deal, sources told ESPN. Not quite done yet, but moving in that direction.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 4, 2016
A source providing confirmation on Bryce Drew to Vanderbilt: "It's done." #Valparaiso— Michael Osipoff (@MichaelOsipoff) April 4, 2016
And there it is: Bryce Drew to Vandy. Phenomenal hire. Vandy fans should send Scott Barnes thank you notes.— Jim Weber (@JimMWeber) April 4, 2016
Drew may not be the only person the Commodores lure from Indiana. Valpo star Alec Peters (18.4 ppg, 8.5 rpg this season) is eligible for a graduate transfer and would be able to play for a new program immediately if he chose to leave the Crusaders.
Bryce Drew to Vandy. Alec Peters will certainly consider doing same. They are extremely close. Just my observation not reporting anything.— Mark Adams (@EnthusiAdams) April 4, 2016
The Southeastern Conference has some strict graduate transfer rules, but as long as Peters leaves Valpo in good standing (both academically and in terms of potential off-court issues) and can find a graduate program at Vanderbilt that isn't offered at Valparaiso, he could fill a frontcourt role for the Commodores this winter.
Here's the roster Drew stands to inherit for 2016-17. However, All-SEC standouts Wade Baldwin and Damian Jones could each declare for the NBA Draft before the new coach gets a chance to unpack his bags on the city's western border.
PG: Wade Baldwin IV / Riley LaChance / Payton Willis
Wings: Matthew Fisher-Davis / Jeff Roberson / Joseph Toye / Camron Justice /Nolan Cressler / Phillip McGloin
Big men: Damian Jones / Luke Kornet / Samir Sehic / D'Jery Baptiste / Clevon Brown