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Louisville Coaching Candidate Profile: Baylor Head Coach Scott Drew

Drew inherited a program that was on the brink, and turned them into a national powerhouse.
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The University of Louisville fired men's basketball head coach Kenny Payne earlier this week, ending a two-year stint with the Cardinals. As the coaching search begins, we will break down each potential candidate, from the realistic to the far reaches. Kicking things off, we'll take a look at Baylor Bears head coach Scott Drew.

Name: Scott Drew
Age: 53
Born and Raised: Kansas City, Mo.
Playing Career: None.
Previous Experience: Assistant coach at Valparaiso from 1993 to 2002, as well as head coach for the 2002-03 season before taking Baylor job.
Connections to Louisville: None.

Pros: Drew knows a thing or two when it comes to resuscitating a program. He was hired by Baylor following one of the worst scandals in collegiate athletics history, and not only elevated them back to Big 12 relevancy, but into a national powerhouse. Since the 2007-08 season, Drew has taken the Bears to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, five Sweet Sixteens, three Elite Eights, and the 2021 National Championship. A lot of that success is due to his status as an elite recruiter, as he has landed 32 top-100 prospects - including eight five-star prospects - since being hired by Baylor. Drew is also adept at navigating the portal, landing both elite transfers and diamonds in the rough. Davion Mitchell went from averaging 3.7 points at Auburn to being the No. 9 overall pick of the 2021 NBA Draft, Freddie Gillespie nearly averaged a double-double in his final season after coming over from the D3 level, and MaCio Teague averaged 15.9 points for the championship squad after starting his career at UNC-Asheville. And these are only a few examples.

Cons: Over the years, Drew developed a bit of a reputation as "someone who couldn't coach," exacerbated by the fact that - despite all the talent he was bringing to Waco - he didn't reach the Final Four until he won it all. The stigma was that he relied on his ability to recruit and pull players to win games, versus his actual coaching ability, although it is a label he has shed in recent years. There is some NCAA baggage to note. Baylor was slapped with three years probation and scholarship reductions back in 2012 due to impermissible recruiting texts and calls, and the investigation was muddied by an assistant coach trying to throw the NCAA off the trail. Drew was charged with "failure to monitor," and suspended for the first two games of the 2012-13 season.

Other Factors: While Drew was born in Missouri and has coached in the state of Texas for nearly two decades, he does have some ties to the region. Before spending a decade at Valparaiso in northern Indiana, he began his coaching career as a student manager at his alma mater of Butler in Indianapolis. Additionally, faith is a massive component of Drew's life, and has played a part as to why he has stayed at Baylor - a private Baptist Christian research institution - for as long as he has and not left for more high profile jobs.

Odds of becoming Louisville's next head coach: Low to Moderate. It's hard to envision Drew actually moving on from Baylor. He has elevated the Bears to a championship caliber program, is in the running for another deep tournament run this year, and recently had a new arena built. He also hasn't shown significant interest in other high profile jobs that have opened up in the last several years. However, it's clear that athletic director Josh Heird has made Drew their No. 1 target, and are willing to compensate him heavily to leave Waco. Will Drew pull the trigger? Never say never, but it seems unlikely.

Other Candidates:

(Photo of Scott Drew: Chris Jones - USA TODAY Sports)

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