Drew family holds impromptu reunion at NCAA Tournament

Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 10:47 PM CDT
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DENVER, Colorado (AP) - Homer Drew has to be the proudest papa in town.

The longtime coaching stalwart has not one, but two sons working the sidelines at the NCAA Tournament this week. Scott Drew is coaching Baylor, Bryce Drew is coaching Grand Canyon and Homer Drew has an entire day to watch and cheer — and sweat it out — from the stands.

“It’s a wonderful time,” said Homer Drew, who made seven tournament appearances in his 22 years at Valparaiso. “It’s a wonderful life.”

The only dilemma for the 78-year-old retired coach at this impromptu family reunion is finding a place to change shirts. Drew said he brought gear from both teams to Denver and went back to his hotel to change in between Thursday practices.

It’s a small inconvenience to watch his sons lead their teams on college basketball’s biggest stage.

An added bonus to the weekend: The boys don’t play each other. The Bears are in the South Regional and the Antelopes in the West. If the teams advance, they wouldn’t meet until the final in Houston.

Homer, the boys and their mom, Janet, had an opportunity to catch up this week. But now things turn serious, with third-seeded Baylor playing Santa Barbara in the early game Friday and No. 14 Grand Canyon taking on Gonzaga later in the day.

“Made it real easy for my mom and dad. They’re getting up in age so it’s harder to travel, so going to one spot is easier,” said Scott Drew, who led Baylor to an NCAA championship in 2021. “We can cheer for each other, and hopefully we can stay around together.”

There have been other perks. When Grand Canyon’s gear didn’t arrive with the team on the plane to Denver, Bryce Drew knew exactly who to turn to. Big brother Scott made sure the Antelopes had some of the Bears’ scout jerseys, until the equipment showed up later.

“We charge them by the hour,” Scott Drew cracked. “Whatever we can do to help.”

For a team that has long made basketball a family affair, this weekend feels meant-to-be.

“Families, they’re part of it,” Bryce Drew 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.”

Twenty-five years ago this week, Bryce Drew drained one of the most iconic shots in NCAA Tournament history to help 13th-seeded Valparaiso knock off Mississippi 70-69 on a last-second shot.

He’s reminded of that moment every tournament.

“We never dreamt that we would be 25 years later getting to answer a question about it,” Bryce Drew said. “Just a special time, special memory. But I like when people just say ‘anniversary’ and they don’t give it the number. The number makes it ... seem a lot older when we put a number on it.”

This weekend isn’t just a Drew family reunion, either. Gonzaga coach Mark Few and his assistant coach, Roger Powell Jr. are close with the Drews, too.

“Just one of the greatest, coolest families out there,” Few said. “I don’t know of any father or son-son lineage that seems to be able to do what they have done. ... They’re fun, positive people to be around.”

They’re also trying to arrange a pickleball game. It didn’t work out in Denver (it snowed, plus, you know, those tournament games). But maybe soon?

“Give them credit for being good coaches,” Bryce Drew said. “But they’re also pretty good pickleball players.”