After being named one of the top assistant basketball coaches in the country last year, United States Sports Academy alumnus Drew Richards has been hired as the head men’s basketball coach at Lander University in Greenwood, S.C.
Richards was ranked as one of the best assistant coaches in NCAA Division II by CoachStat.net, a website that uses analytical data to compile a comprehensive ranking of men’s basketball coaches in a variety of categories, for his work as associate head coach at the University of North Carolina Pembroke (UNCP). He was hired by Lander University in March 2019.
Richards earned his Master of Sports Science degree in sports management from the Academy in 2013. He holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Missouri State University, where he was a four-year letterman in basketball. He said fellow Academy alumnus and current Creighton University men’s basketball coach Greg McDermott encouraged him to further his education at the Academy. He earned his Academy degree while working as an assistant coach at the junior college level at Missouri State-West Plains.
“I chose to pursue a master’s degree at the Academy because of a recommendation from Greg McDermott,” Richards said. “The Academy prepared me for my career by touching on multiple avenues that I have come across in higher education. Had I attended a different university, I am not sure if they would be so understanding of a coach’s schedule.
“It also helped that the Academy was focused solely on sports and I was able to graduate in enough time to stay competitive in a tough job market.”
In his last season at UNCP, the team won its second consecutive Peach Belt Conference regular season championship, finishing with a regular season record of 23-5.
A native of Rogersville, Mo., Richards played basketball at Logan-Rogersville High School before attending Missouri State University as a student-athlete. At Missouri State, Richards led the team in blocked shots in each of his last three years and he earned the Guy Thompson Award, given annually to the team’s most outstanding senior.
Richards also played one season of professional basketball in Germany, starting for the Erdgas Ehingen Steeples. He finished ninth in the league in blocks and 12th in rebounds during the 2008-09 season.
“I really appreciate the Academy keeping its alumni updated and following their successes,” Richards said. “Not all universities do that as well as the Academy.”