Valentine has helped the Ramblers to 99 wins over the last four years as an assistant coach
CHICAGO (April 5, 2021) – Drew Valentine, who has spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach at Loyola University Chicago, helping the team to three Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championships, two NCAA Tournament berths and a National Invitation Tournament appearance, has been named the 17th head coach in men’s basketball program history, it was announced tonight. Valentine will be formally introduced at a press conference Tuesday morning on the Loyola campus.
“It is with great excitement and enthusiasm that we introduce Drew Valentine as the head coach of our men’s basketball program,” Loyola Director of Athletics Steve Watson said. “Over the course of his career as both a player and as a coach, Drew had proven that he’s a winner who does things the right way. We are extremely proud of the recent success of our program and Drew has played a key role in those accomplishments. He is the perfect person to lead us as we continue to build upon that success as we begin the next chapter of Loyola basketball.”
In eight seasons on coaching staffs in his career, Valentine has guided teams to the postseason seven times, including three NCAA Sweet 16 appearances, two of which wound up with trips to the Final Four.
At 29 years of age, Valentine, a native of Lansing, Mich., is believed to be the youngest head coach in NCAA Division I men’s basketball. In 2017, he was named to the Under Armour 30-Under-30 Team, presented by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), as one of the top coaches under the age of 30.
Over the last four years on Porter Moser’s staff at Loyola, Valentine has played a pivotal role in the program’s ascension to national prominence, helping the Ramblers to a 99-36 (.733) overall record and a 56-16 (.778) ledger in Missouri Valley Conference action. During his tenure in Rogers Park, Valentine, whose brother, Denzel is a guard for the Chicago Bulls, helped Loyola produce three MVC Player of the Year award winners (Clayton Custer in 2018, Marques Townes in 2019 and Cameron Krutwig in 2021), two MVC Defensive Player of the Year selections (Ben Richardson in 2018 and Lucas Williamson in 2021), a MVC Sixth Man of the Year (Marquise Kennedy in 2020) and a MVC Freshman of the Year (Cameron Krutwig in 2018). In addition, both Custer and Townes collected Associated Press Honorable Mention All-America distinction, while this year, Krutwig became Loyola’s first AP Third Team All-America selection since 1985, and in 2018, Custer was tabbed Third Team Academic All-America.
For the last two seasons, Valentine has served as the de facto defensive coordinator for a Ramblers unit that ranked 21stin the nation in scoring defense in 2019-20 (62.7 ppg) and first in the country (56.1 ppg) in 2020-21. During his four seasons on the Loyola staff, Loyola ranked in the top six in the nation in scoring defense three times but it wasn’t just the defense that thrived. Although defense has been Loyola’s calling card, the Ramblers have also ranked among Division I’s best in field goal percentage in each of the last four seasons.
A proven winner, Valentine has helped lead Loyola to four consecutive seasons with at least 20 wins, including a school-record 32 victories in 2017-18 during a magical run to the NCAA Final Four. Loyola is 6-2 in NCAA Tournament games since Valentine joined the Ramblers’ staff in 2017-18 and Loyola is one of three teams outside the Power 6 conferences to have reached the Sweet 16 in two of the last three years.
This marks the first time the Ramblers have won 20 or more games in four straight seasons since the 1945-46 through 1948-49 campaigns. On top of that, Loyola has earned five wins over nationally ranked opponents since the start of the 2017-18 season, including a pair of victories over teams ranked in the top five in the AP Top 25 Poll (No. 5 Florida in 2017-18 and No. 2 Illinois in 2020-21).
This season, Valentine’s influence was evident as Loyola posted a 26-5 overall record as well as a program-record 16 conference victories, while capturing the MVC regular season and tournament championships. Earning the No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Ramblers reached the Sweet 16, picking up wins over the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament champion, Georgia Tech, as well as the top seed in the Midwest Region, Big Ten Tournament champion, Illinois.
“It is an absolute honor to be named head men’s basketball coach at Loyola University Chicago,” Valentine said. “I’d like to congratulate one of the biggest mentors and role models in my life, Coach Moser, on his new opportunity at the University of Oklahoma. The impact that he has made on this entire University will not forgotten. We will continue to do things the right way, with character and passion! The vision and standard that Coach Moser established will forever remain a part of the culture.
“I’d like to thank Steve Watson and the entire athletics administration for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to be the head coach at such a prestigious University. The commitment and vision that Steve has had for the entire department has taken off and his leadership is shown through the success of Ramblers teams across the board.
“I’d also like to thank Dr. Jo Ann Rooney, Tom Kelly and the rest of the University for their support of our program. They have believed in the vision for where this program is headed and without that, we would not be where we are today. Lastly, I’d like to thank the student-athletes, past, present and future. Your commitment to the culture is unmatched and the standards of excellence you set are amazing. Your influence will reign as we enter the next chapter of Loyola basketball and we look forward to continuing to make you all proud.”
Valentine also spent two seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Oakland University, where he helped the Golden Grizzlies to 48 total wins and a pair of postseason appearances from 2015-17. While there, he played a crucial role in the development of Kay Felder into a second-round selection of the Atlanta Hawks in the 2016 NBA Draft. Felder earned Horizon League Player of the Year and AP Third Team All-America recognition.
Before returning to his alma mater, Valentine spent two seasons as a graduate manager at Michigan State, where he helped coach Tom Izzo’s Spartans to a 53-21 record, two Sweet 16 appearances and a berth in the 2015 NCAA Final Four.
As a player, Valentine, whose father, Carlton, was a standout player at Michigan State in the 1980s, was the heart and soul of an Oakland program that notched 87 victories and a pair of NCAA Tournament berths in his career, and he graduated as the winningest player in school history.
Valentine and his wife, Taylor, are expecting their first child this spring.
What They’re Saying About Drew Valentine
Porter Moser, head coach, University of Oklahoma
“Drew was such an integral part of all of our success at Loyola. He has a passion for people and an extremely bright basketball mind. It was an absolute no-brainer for him to take over and continue the culture at Loyola. In Drew, people will see a tireless worker but also someone who pours himself into young men. He is unbelievable at building relationships. I’ve known this for a while, but Drew has all of the qualities needed to be a great head coach.”
Tom Izzo, head coach, Michigan State University
“Drew Valentine is one of the great young coaches in college basketball and I just think it’s a natural for Loyola Chicago to name him as its next men’s basketball head coach. He’s been with their program for four years and has been such an important part of their success during this run. He has a great mind for the game and is just a high-energy guy who is a tremendous leader for the kids who play for him.
Obviously, we know the Valentine family and they are terrific. Both his father, Carlton, who I recruited, and his brother, Denzel, who became a national player of the year, played here at Michigan State. I’ve known Drew since he was 5 years old and while is he just 29-year-old, I think he is much older and wiser because of all of his experience. Having had the opportunity to work at MSU as a graduate assistant while his brother played here allowed him to learn how to separate himself and helped him grow his own voice as a coach. Drew Valentine is a winner and I have no doubt that he will continue to do just that for Loyola.”
Donte Ingram, former Loyola guard
“Coach Valentine is 100 percent the person for this job. From day one in this program, he has been an anchor in our culture with the way he leads by example with hard work and dedication.”
Draymond Green, forward, Golden State Warriors
“Having first had the opportunity to play with Drew at age 15 on the AAU circuit, you couldn’t help but notice his high basketball IQ from the very beginning. To no surprise, he went on to play and continue to learn the game from legendary coach Greg Kampe at Oakland University. To follow that up, he landed at Michigan State under the tutelage of Hall of Famer Tom Izzo, and finally on to join Coach Moser’s staff at Loyola. Drew has been preparing for this opportunity for as long as I can remember and I am thrilled to see him get what he deserves. Loyola, at 29-year-old, you got your coach for years to come, a future hall of famer! I can’t wait to support and watch more magical runs through the tourney. Get it done, Drew! Go Ramblers!”
Jeff Goodman, college basketball analyst, Stadium
“Drew Valentine is a rising star in this business. I don’t just like this hire, I love it! I’ve known Drew for years and he’s a guy that doesn’t just know the game, but he’ll also be able to connect with the players. He’ll recruit at a high level, develop players, get them to play hard and sustain the success that this program has had since his arrival.”
LaPhonso Ellis, college basketball analyst, ESPN
“I couldn’t be more excited about Loyola Chicago promoting Drew Valentine from within to be its next head men’s basketball coach! During his recruitment of my son, Drew displayed integrity, attention to detail, diligence and basketball intelligence. I’m confident that he will be able to uphold the standard, maintain the culture and further the legacy of Loyola men’s basketball.”
COURTESY LOYOLA ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS