Baylor Coach Scott Drew Praises Former Assistant John Jakus as New FAU Head Coach

Baylor Coach Scott Drew Praises Former Assistant John Jakus as New FAU Head Coach

Baylor basketball coach Scott Drew has a message for John Jakus, now that his protégé has been named head coach at Florida Atlantic.

Hopefully we see him in the Final Four," Drew told The Palm Beach Post Thursday.

That'll be the one time we're not cheering for coach Jakus."

Jakus, who signed a five-year, $5 million contract late Wednesday to succeed Dusty May, spent more time with Drew than any other coach in his career. His nine years in Waco, Texas, included three as a graduate assistant and, after three seasons as Gonzaga's director of basketball operations, Jakus returned to Baylor in 2017.

At both schools, he reached the Final Four, winning the 2021 title at Baylor.

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"X's and O's, there's no one he's going to run up against that is superior," Drew said. "Might be equal, but he's as good as it gets.

There's a reason we were so successful, Gonzaga was so successful. He was a big part of it in both places."

One reason Drew believes Jakus is ready for his first head coaching job is the variety of responsibilities he has held at Baylor and Gonzaga. He was Drew's associate head coach since 2022, which was a tutorial in head coaching.

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One of the things my dad always taught me, so you can blame him, we've always given a lot of responsibility to our coaches," Drew said about his father, Homer, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame who was a college coach for more than four decades, 35 of those as a head coach.

"And it's not one thing, it's not like you just do this. You work with the guards, the wings, the bigs; offense, defense. So that way when you're a head coach, you've done it all."

Add scouting reports and recruit.

"There's no weakness, or no area that he's that he can't handle or he can't do," Drew said.

Jakus was especially involved in Baylor's offense in recent years. The Bears consistently have been among the nation's best offensive teams and Baylor's is one of two programs to rank in the top five in three of the past four years, along with Gonzaga.

Jakus' resume also includes international experience and working with Athletes in Action as a volunteer head coach. He's been a head coach in Bulgaria and Macedonia.

"He has a great pulse on what's going on, not only recruiting wise overseas, but also X's- and O's-wise," Drew said. "A lot of times there're trends that start in the NBA or start in Europe that trickle down to collegiate basketball."

Recruiting has become multilayered with perhaps the most important being the transfer portal. And Jakus has helped Baylor land key transfers in recent years, including Pac-12 first-team selection James Akinjo from Arizona, two-time leading scorer Adam Flagler from Presbyterian, MaCio Teague from UNC-Asheville, and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, who transferred from UNLV and was the 2022 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.

The first thing in the portal is identifying who fits your, your system, and who you can be successful with," Drew said. "And he's really good at identifying talent that fits. And then the second thing is he's really good at developing."

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One of Jakus' early priorities will be talking to FAU's top three players, center Vladislav Goldin and guards Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin, all of whom have eligibility remaining and could be coveted by several schools.

Drew had a front-row seat for FAU's national semifinal heartbreaking loss to San Diego State during last year's Final Four, a game decided at the buzzer. He's aware of what May built these past two years and believes that FAU Athletic Director Brian White hired the right man to continue that trajectory.

"I know coach Jakus will do a great job helping it continue to grow and blossom," Drew said. "Because you can't guarantee a Final Four every year, but what you can do is be consistently good and build from there and coach Jakus will definitely do that."

Tom D'Angelo is a senior sports columnist and golf writer for The Palm Beach Post. He can be reached at [email protected].

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