Denzel Valentine says Loyola basketball hired an ‘it’ factor with brother Drew

According to the Bulls guard, he would not have his success if not for big brother, and the Ramblers program made the right decision in promoting Drew Valentine to head coach.

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Drew and Denzel Valentine share a moment with their family at Michigan State’s Senior Day in 2016.

Drew and Denzel Valentine share a moment with their family at Michigan State’s Senior Day in 2016.

Denzel Valentine is obviously biased when it comes to Loyola basketball and its new coach.

Little brothers usually are.

But the way the Bulls guard sees it, he wouldn’t be where he was if it wasn’t for his older brother, Drew, and neither would the Ramblers’ program over the last four years.

Drew became the program’s new coach with the departure of Porter Moser to Oklahoma, and on Tuesday, Denzel was raving about the school’s decision.

“He knows his analytics, he knows X’s and O’s, he knows how to talk to people,’’ Denzel said in a Zoom meeting after the morning shootaround. “Probably wouldn’t be where I’m at right now if he wasn’t [a graduate manager] at Michigan State, helping me out. So I give a lot of credit to him for my success, and I think he’s going to push those guys and that team to a new level and I think he’s ready to take on this job.’’

As an assistant at Loyola, Drew was the de facto defensive coordinator, but according to Denzel, he’s much more than that as a coach. Not only does he feel Drew has some old-school coaching DNA, but also the ability to relate to today’s players because he’s only 29.

Denzel even went on to say that with a Final Four appearance in 2018 and then a Sweet 16 run this year, it’s easy to connect the dots. Loyola’s recent success came once Drew joined the staff at the start of that 2017-18 campaign.

“It doesn’t surprise me because he puts in the work, he has incredible knowledge for the game, and he just has that ‘it’ factor,’’ Denzel said. “And I think when he came to Loyola, he brought that ‘it’ factor to this team and to that program, and I think he has a lot to do with their success, and I’m glad he got the job.’’

As far as Denzel following in the footsteps of big brother, as well as his father, Carlton, who also coached, that’s a discussion for another day.

“That’s too far down the road right now,’’ Denzel said. “I don’t know. We’ll see. I’m just excited for [Drew].’’

Where it gets interesting is will both Valentines stay in Chicago?

Denzel is a free agent after this season, and while he does seem to have a set role off the bench now, will that keep him with the team that originally drafted him?

First, the Bulls would want to keep him, and then there’s the money it would take to do so. The younger Valentine was asked if he would be willing to take a hometown discount now that his brother is locked in at Loyola for a bit, but he didn’t give a clear answer.

“I have the utmost respect for the Chicago Bulls and I love being in Chicago,’’ Valentine said. “So I definitely wouldn’t mind being here longer or however long that may be. But business is business. Decisions are made you sometimes can’t control.’’

Short stack

Bulls coach Billy Donovan is no stranger to playing short-handed this season, and that didn’t change against the Pacers with both Garrett Temple (right hamstring) and Daniel Theis (personal reasons) unavailable.

Temple now has missed four consecutive games and 11 of the last 13 with injuries, while Theis was not with the team, but Donovan expects him to rejoin the team at some point on this five-city road trip.

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