PEMBROKE – UNC Pembroke will have a new presence patrolling the sidelines of their men’s basketball team this year.
Men’s basketball head coach Ben Miller has announced the addition of Drew Richards as an assistant coach for the Braves.
Richards, a former player under Miller at Missouri State, makes the trip to Pembroke from Lawton, Okla., where he served as an assistant coach for Cameron (NCAA Division II) last season. In addition to his coaching duties, he will also serve as a lecturer in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department.
“Drew and Caeli will be great additions to our basketball program and community,” Miller said. “I had the opportunity to coach Drew for four years at Missouri State, and I always appreciated his work ethic and character. He had a blue collar-type approach as a player whether it meant taking a charge or diving on the floor for a loose ball to help the team. … Coach Richards will work hard to make our program better and I know he is excited to be part of Brave Nation.”
A native of Rogersville, Mo., Richards has enjoyed success as both a player and coach over the last 10 years. Following a standout collegiate and professional playing career, he stepped into the coaching world as an assistant at Missouri State-West Plains – a heavyweight in the junior college ranks – and helped pace the Grizzlies to a cumulative 42-20 (.677) record, as well as the 2012-13 NJCAA Region XVI regular season title. As a rookie coach in 2011-12, he helped mold a 21-10 club that finished ninth, nationally, in field goal percentage defense. The squad also established a new program benchmark for fewest points allowed in a season (1,807).
His success in West Plains would inevitably follow him to Lawton where he was an integral part of the Aggies’ best conference start in school history in 2013-14.
“I am absolutely thrilled to be joining Coach Miller and the rest of the staff and players at UNCP,” Richards said. “I learned a lot from Coach Miller as a player and I look forward to learning more from him as a coach while doing everything I can to continue the tradition of success he started here.”
A four-year letterwinner at Missouri State, Richards played in 118 career games (69 starts) and helped the Bears compile a collective 80-49 (.620) record and three trips to the National Invitational Tournament (NIT). His career was highlighted by a host of honors as well, including the Guy Thompson Award which is given annually to the team’s most outstanding senior on and off the court.
Richards currently ranks third all-time in MSU annals with 132 career blocked shots, while also ranking among the program’s all-time top 10 in games played.
Following a stellar collegiate career, Richards moved on to the professional ranks where he was a fixture in the starting lineup for the Erdgas Ehingen Steeples in Ehingen, Germany. He finished ninth in the league in blocked shots and 12th in rebounds per game in 2008-09.
A color analyst for the radio broadcasts at Missouri State from 2009-11 as well, Richards earned his bachelor’s degree in public relations from Missouri State in 2008, while also earning his master’s degree in sports science from the United States Sports Academy in 2013.
Richards and his wife, Caeli, currently reside in Lumberton.
This article was provided by The University of North Carolina at Pembroke sports information.