Sports

Scott Drew talks building Baylor into basketball powerhouse, ‘praying’ for Brittney Griner

Baylor men’s basketball coach Scott Drew turned the program into a powerhouse since he came over from Valparaiso before the start of the 2003-2004 season and is looking forward to another terrific year in 2021-2022.

The Bears return to the floor coming off a 27-7 record overall and 14-4 in the Big 12 Conference, winning the regular season conference championship for the second straight season. Drew has led Baylor to 15 consecutive winning seasons and a national championship in 2021.

In a recent interview with Fox News Digital, Drew credited those around him, from the leadership at the school to the college athletes who take the floor, for helping build Baylor into what it is now — one of the best men’s basketball programs in the country that’s consistently in contention for a national title.

Baylor head coach Scott Drew reacts during the game against Texas Tech at United Supermarkets Arena on Feb. 16, 2022, in Lubbock, Texas.

Baylor head coach Scott Drew reacts during the game against Texas Tech at United Supermarkets Arena on Feb. 16, 2022, in Lubbock, Texas.
(John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

“It starts with staff and players, administration. It takes a team to win, and we had to have players [who] came in and believed in the vision and what we could achieve at Baylor University,” Drew said.

“Since 2008, us and Kansas are the only two Power Five programs to win 18 or more games a year. We’ve been consistently good the last [few] years to be ranked No. 1, back-to-back top 10 picks. Then obviously as a coach, you dream of having chances to win national championships. In 2010, we had a chance. Lost in the Elite 8 to Duke, who won it all. In 2012, lost to Kentucky, who won it all. And then obviously we had a couple other Sweet 16 appearances, winning it all. Then the year before with COVID, we were set to be a No. 1 seed, first time in school history, and then COVID hit us, so what’s the chances of that, you know? Finally, get a No. 1 seed,” he continued.

“But even last year, 15-0 [to start the year] and lose two players for the season – your leading scorer L.J. Cryer, you lose Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, co-Defensive Player of the Year, and you lose in a great game against North Carolina who makes it to the championship game. It’s really exciting working with great young men that have a chance to win a national championship, and you get a chance to impact spiritually, character-wise, academically and athletically.”

Tchatchoua said in a recent video that he plans on being back as soon as he can after suffering a devastating knee injury in February that cost him his 2021-2022 season. Cryer and Langston Love are also cleared for basketball activities, Drew said last month.

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Baylor head coach Scott Drew talks with an official during the game against Kansas State on Feb 9, 2022, at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas.

Baylor head coach Scott Drew talks with an official during the game against Kansas State on Feb 9, 2022, at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas.
(Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Baylor’s Flo Thamba and Adam Flagler are back as well, with the additions of freshmen Keyonte George and Josh Ojianwuna joining the squad.

Getting the young players to really focus on one goal is something Drew admitted is a bit more challenging nowadays than in years past but is confident in the players to buy in and really focus on the task at hand.

“I know with us it starts with bringing in people that fit our culture and can represent our school the right way,” Drew said. “It’s not saying we’re perfect. We all sin, we’re all saved through grace. But at the end of the day, we have young men that [have] really been raised in great families, and they do a great job in listening, being coachable and allowing us to be able to help guide them away from pitfalls and things that could put them in harm’s way. There’s a lot more things out there nowadays – everyone has a recorder, everyone can video, and once it hits, things go viral. And now, I think people get judged on their worst moments instead of who they really are a lot of times.”

One thing in the back of everyone’s mind within the Baylor community is Brittney Griner. The former Bears star was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison over drug smuggling charges.

Baylor head coach Scott Drew speaks during a press conference following the team's loss to Texas Tech at the Ferrell Center on Jan. 11, 2022, in Waco, Texas.

Baylor head coach Scott Drew speaks during a press conference following the team’s loss to Texas Tech at the Ferrell Center on Jan. 11, 2022, in Waco, Texas.
(Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

Drew told Fox News Digital he would connect with her at times when she came back to visit the school, and she is in his prayers.

“We’d love to see her back as soon as possible and praying for her and her family,” he said.

Baylor’s men’s basketball season begins Nov. 7 at home against Mississippi Valley State.

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