College basketball notebook: Vanderbilt fires Drew

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[March 23, 2019]   Source: FIELD LEVEL MEDIA

Vanderbilt fired basketball coach Bryce Drew after a 9-23 season punctuated by a winless conference record, the school announced Friday.

Drew, 44, was halfway into a six-year contract. In three years at the helm of the Commodores, Drew compiled a 40-59 record. His tenure started with a promising season in 2016-17 that ended in a 19-16 record and an NCAA Tournament berth, but it was followed by a pair of sub-.500 seasons.

This season, the Commodores were 0-18 in Southeastern Conference games, the first team to go without a win in the league in 65 years. Vanderbilt has hired consulting search firm Korn Ferry to lead the search for a new head coach.

Drew moved to Vanderbilt after five seasons as coach of his alma mater, Valparaiso. There, he compiled a 124-49 record in five seasons (2011-16), with the Crusaders winning four Horizon League regular-season championships and appearing in the NCAA Tournament twice.

--A loss in the first round of the NIT might have been the end of coach Avery Johnson's run at Alabama. ESPN reported that the university is negotiating a buyout of Johnson's contract after the top-seeded Crimson Tide were stunned 80-79 in overtime at home by Norfolk State on Wednesday night.

Johnson, who turns 54 on Monday, became Alabama's coach in 2015, but the Crimson Tide have made just one NCAA Tournament in his four seasons at the helm.

Johnson's current contract runs through 2023 and pays him approximately $3 million annually. It calls for the school to pay him $8 million if he's fired without cause before April 15, but they amount falls to $6 million after that. In his four seasons at Alabama, Johnson is 75-62 with a 34-38 conference record.

--Wake Forest coach Danny Manning will return next season, despite a second consecutive 20-loss season, the school announced.

Manning, 52, took over as coach of the Demon Deacons before the 2014-15 season and has posted a 65-93 record in five seasons. During Manning's tenure, Wake Forest is 0-26 against Atlantic Coast Conference foes Clemson, Duke, North Carolina and Virginia.

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Wake Forest has made one NCAA Tournament appearance in that time -- a First Four loss in 2017 -- but three 11-20 seasons have been sandwiched around the lone winning year. The Demon Deacons have just five 20-loss seasons in history, with three of them under Manning's watch.

--Ja Morant stole the show in Hartford on Thursday, but the Murray State flash opened eyes nationwide with his triple-double performance that led his 12th-seeded Racers into the second round in a blowout of Marquette.

Among the observers wowed by the sophomore point guard was another former NCAA Tournament darling, one-time Davidson dynamo Steph Curry. "What he did on Thursday, it shows you he's ready for whatever," Curry told Yahoo Sports. "That transition to the NBA isn't going to be difficult at all for him."

Morant posted 17 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds, becoming just the eighth player to post a triple-double in an NCAA Tournament game and the first since Draymond Green at Michigan State. Green was paying attention, too, telling Yahoo: "That was my first time watching him play, and he's for real."

--Texas freshman Jaxson Hayes is expected to make a full recovery after a scary injury to his left knee in a Big 12 tournament quarterfinal loss to Kansas last week, the school announced.

The 6-foot-11 forward, a potential lottery pick in June's NBA Draft, was injured with about two minutes left in the game when a cutting Jayhawks player collided with his leg near the baseline.

After being checked out by multiple specialists, it was determined Hayes suffered a bone bruise, but no structural damage. His recovery time is reportedly "a matter of weeks." The Big 12 Freshman of the Year averaged 10 points, five rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots in 32 games (21 starts) for the Longhorns.

--Field Level Media

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