Bulls' Denzel Valentine excited for brother Drew's Loyola promotion

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K.C. Johnson
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Denzel Valentine shows brotherly love for new Loyola coach originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Less than two hours after Loyola University introduced Drew Valentine as Porter Moser’s successor, Denzel Valentine sat in an Indianapolis hotel lobby, detailing the bond he and his older brother share.

Probably wouldn’t be where I’m at right now if he wasn’t a [graduate assistant] at Michigan State, helping me out,” Denzel Valentine said via Zoom following the Bulls’ shootaround in advance of Tuesday’s game against the Pacers. “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.

“It’s actually going to be kind of funny to be honest with you for him to be actually running a program. Like, that’s my brother. We kick it. But it’s also going to be cool to see him lead his own team.”

Sometimes, it’s amazing how life works.

With a new regime, Valentine wasn’t even guaranteed a roster spot on the Bulls this season. But Artūras Karnišovas extended a qualifying offer to Valentine, not Kris Dunn or Shaq Harrison, and Valentine has firmly found his way into Billy Donovan’s rotation more often than not.

At 29, Drew, meanwhile, becomes one of the youngest Division I head coaches after Moser left for Oklahoma following Loyola’s upset of No. 1-seed Illinois and a Sweet 16 trip.

“We didn’t have any plans or anything when we came to Chicago. It just kind of happened the way it happened,” Denzel said. “His first year, they went to the Final Four and they’ve been pretty much winning since then. It’s just big time. I’m so excited for him. I think he’s ready for it. Coaching is in his blood. Our Dad was a coach. I think he’s going to do a great job.”

Indeed, Carlton Valentine coached both his sons at Lansing (Mich.) Sexton High, winning state titles in 2011 and 2012. Denzel followed Carlton’s footsteps to play at Michigan State, but he isn’t sure if he’ll follow his father’s and older brother’s footsteps into coaching.

“That’s too far down the road right now. We’ll see. I’m just excited for Drew,” Denzel said. “I think he’s born to lead and born to coach.

“He’s always had incredible knowledge for the game. He knows his analytics, he knows X’s and O’s, he knows how to talk to people. He’s just a really good leader. Even when we go on vacations and stuff like that, he’s just organized and stuff. We always look to Drew, ‘Drew, what should do? What restaurants should we go to?’

“He has really high energy. He’s up at like 6 [a.m.], get in a workout, and then be in the office all day to 7-8 [p.m.], come home and be watching more basketball. It’s just 24/7 basketball. So 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. 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.’’

Denzel will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Asked if Drew’s new gig will influence him wanting to stay in Chicago, Denzel reiterated his happiness here but emphasized it’s not fully his decision.

“It would be cool to be here. I love this organization. I have the utmost respect for the Chicago Bulls. And I love being in Chicago. So I definitely wouldn’t mind being here longer or however long that may be,” he said. “But business is business. Decisions are made you sometimes can’t control. Either way, I’ll be happy. I’m just excited for Drew that he has this opportunity to be a head coach at 29 and lead his own team.”

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