By Chris Emma–
(CBS) Now 10 days after the position opened, Valparaiso’s Bryce Drew is DePaul’s top target for its basketball coaching vacancy, sources said.
After a 54-105 mark in five seasons, Oliver Purnell was forced out by DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto — with resignation politely used by the university — and Drew, 40, became the logical replacement.
A source close to Drew believes that he will take the DePaul job, citing the allure of Chicago and its location still fairly close to Valparaiso, Ind., Drew’s hometown and where family members live. The source said Drew was one of the candidates pushing for the Northwestern opening two years ago, which eventually went to Chris Collins.
The main influences that could keep Drew from jumping to DePaul is an attachment to a Valparaiso program that his father, Homer, built up as head coach or a belief that the DePaul job isn’t worth the jump from a stable situation. However, it’s believed by the source that Drew would accept the offer.
Another source has indicated that Ponsetto is hoping to have a coach hired before the Final Four, though no interviews have been conducted as of yet. Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne, Buffalo head coach Bobby Hurley, Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello and Wisconsin-Green Bay head coach Brian Wardle are also among candidates for the opening.
Former Pittsburgh and UCLA head coach Ben Howland’s name was rumored, but he never materialized for DePaul. Howland was hired Tuesday by Mississippi State.
Drew has a record of 94-42 in his four years leading Vaparaiso, including two consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Drew’s 13th-seeded Crusaders fell 65-62 to the fourth-seeded Maryland Terrapins in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 64 last Friday. Valpo finished the season 28-6.
Drew has also spent six seasons in the NBA, including one with the Chicago Bulls. His main claim to fame was “The Shot” that led 13-seed Valparaiso to a stunning upset of Ole Miss in the 1998 NCAA Tournament.
This will be Ponsetto’s third hire of a basketball head coach at DePaul, with Jerry Wainwright and Purnell each being dismissed. It’s presumed that she will search for a younger, up-and-coming coaching candidate to replace the 61-year-old Purnell, who often seemed burnt out by the job.
As the search continues for DePaul, Drew is that type of emerging candidate with a bright future.
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.