Valentine feels ‘super prepared’ for head coaching job at Loyola

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EAST LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – Lansing Sexton native Drew Valentine was officially introduced as the next head coach of the Loyola men’s basketball team at 10 a.m. on Tuesday in Chicago — making him the youngest head coach in Division I men’s basketball.

“It’s been such a whirlwind,” said Valentine. “Expected, but unexpected I guess you could say.”

Valentine, who is 29 years old, has always dreamed of being a head coach ever since he started his coaching career as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Oakland University.

He expected he would one day run his own program, but to accomplish it before the age of 30? That was unexpected. As well as the process. It ended up being a lot simpler than he anticipated.

“Coach (Porter) Moser had a couple of opportunities a couple of years ago, in 2019, and when that happened I started having conversations with our athletic director Steve Watson,” said Valentine. “You know, just about if something were to happen, would there be a mutual interest? We just built a really good relationship over those past two years, so I think I was kind of interviewing for the job without interviewing and so that’s what I think made it such a quick process.”

The Ramblers’ program is one Valentine knows quite well considering he served as an assistant on Moser’s staff for four seasons before he decided to leave for the head job at Oklahoma, which opened up the door for Drew.

“I feel super prepared,” said Valentine. “I’ve had a lot of experience, and I say that, because it’s not always about the quantity of the years of the experience but the quality of the experience in the years that I’ve had.”

The experience he’s speaking to is the Ramblers’ recent success while he’s been on the staff. Since Valentine arrived at Loyola the Ramblers have won three Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championships, with two NCAA Tournament berths and an appearance in the National Invitation Tournament.

“I think the accomplishments and the teams I’ve been a part of as a coach speaks for itself and I’ve been around some really great mentors that have helped prepare me for this moment,” said Valentine.

You also can’t forget who his Dad is. Carlton Valentine led Lansing Sexton’s boys basketball team to the MHSAA State Finals three years in a row (2010, 2011, 2012) where the Big Reds won back-to-back titles in ’11 and ’12.

“I think the experience of also growing up with my Dad being a coach, right?” said Valentine. “You know prepared from all those years of ‘coach speak’ and all the training I saw by him through example. I would say I’m very prepared for the moment.”

Carlton and his wife Kathy flew in from Florida for Drew’s introductory press conference and Carlton said it was a moment full of pride, but also a tear-jerking moment for the entire family.

“Well deserved for Drew for all the time and effort he has put in,” said Carlton. “What a crazy day. A crazy morning.”

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