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Unexpected news:Kentucky is moving quickly to make Baylor’s Scott Drew the Wildcats’ next basketball coach

Kentucky is moving quickly to make Baylor’s Scott Drew the Wildcats’ next basketball coach

Less than 24 hours after John Calipari’s resignation as the men’s basketball coach at the University of Kentucky, the focus has intensified on Baylor’s Scott Drew as his replacement.

The Herald-Leader was told that UK engaged in serious discussions with Drew shortly after Calipari announced Tuesday afternoon that he was stepping down as the Wildcats’ head coach.

 

 

 

 

 

On Wednesday morning, a plane belonging to JC Land LLC — a company owned by Joe Craft, according to business records with the Kentucky Secretary of State — flew to the Waco area. The aircraft was headed back to central Kentucky later Wednesday morning and landed in Georgetown just before noon. Television news crews had gathered at the Blue Grass Airport in Lexington in anticipation of the flight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Craft is UK Athletics’ biggest booster and a major donor to the university.

 

 

 

 

 

Drew, who spent the past 21 seasons at Baylor and won the 2021 national championship, was not on the flight to central Kentucky Wednesday, but the same plane returned to the Waco area on Wednesday night, and KWTX-TV — the CBS affiliate in Waco — confirmed upon its landing back in Texas that members of Drew’s family were on the flight and had been in Lexington earlier in the day.

The Baylor coach has offered no public comment on his potential interest in the UK job opening. Drew has long been thought to be the first choice of athletics director Mitch Barnhart to become Kentucky’s basketball coach in the event of an opening, and, as expected, he has emerged as the top candidate to replace Calipari.

An announcement that Drew will be the next head coach at UK looked like it could come as soon as Wednesday, but there was not yet an agreement in place for him to take over the Wildcats’ program as midnight approached, and, by that time, it appeared that there would be no final decision until Thursday, at the earliest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Wednesday afternoon — amid increasing speculation that he could be the next UK head coach — Drew posted a photo of himself having lunch in Waco alongside Eric Shero, a banking executive and major Baylor Athletics supporter. His post did not directly reference the Kentucky basketball job.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Great lunch spot in Waco on a rainy day,” Drew said on X. “No better friend and supporter than Eric Shero and Alliance Bank!”

Scott Drew has been the head coach of the Baylor Bears for the past 21 seasons.
Scott Drew has been the head coach of the Baylor Bears for the past 21 seasons. Wendell Cruz USA TODAY NETWORK

Drew, 53, began his coaching career as an assistant at Valparaiso under his father, Homer Drew, and was the head coach there for one season before taking over at Baylor in 2003, inheriting a program embroiled in scandal at a school with little history of basketball success.

Despite years of crippling NCAA sanctions left over from the previous coaching staff, Drew turned the Bears into a perennial national contender in relatively short order. They reached the NCAA Tournament in his fifth season — Baylor’s first appearance in March Madness in two decades and just its second tournament berth in 58 years — and led the team to the Elite Eight two years later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baylor won its first national championship in 2021, when Barnhart was the chair of the NCAA Tournament selection committee. Drew has a 446-244 record with the Bears, and he’s been the head coach for 12 of the team’s 16 NCAA Tournament appearances.

Several big names were floated as possibilities for the Kentucky job once it was clear that Calipari, who was announced as the new coach at Arkansas on Wednesday morning, would not return to Lexington for a 16th season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UConn’s Dan Hurley, Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan and Alabama’s Nate Oats were all seen as potential candidates for the UK opening, but Drew was viewed as the frontrunner for the job behind the scenes, even before Calipari officially announced his departure.

 

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