Oakland men's basketball has lost yet another assistant coach.
Drew Valentine, who starred for the Golden Grizzlies before becoming the program's youngest assistant coach, announced Friday he is leaving to join the staff at Loyola in Chicago.
While it may seem to some like a lateral move, Loyola does play in the Missouri Valley Conference, which has a slightly better reputation for basketball than the Horizon League.
"I want to be a head coach one day," Valentine said over the phone Friday. "I'm excited about being able to take a step forward in the Missouri Valley, as well as with a coach that is well-respected. Everybody that I've talked to about coach (Porter) Moser has said nothing but great things about how, how great a coach he is, and recruiter, and Xs and Os.
"I feel like it's best for me in my future to make steps and try to gain as much experience as possible so that I can diversify my coaching repertoire and do what it takes to become a head coach."
Valentine spent two years on Greg Kampe's staff at Oakland, and was promoted to the program's head recruiter.
That's significant, as this is a heavy recruiting period, and Oakland is left with a significant void with Valentine's sudden — and late-in-the-game — departure.
Kampe, who recently hired Detroit native Tony Jones to replace Cornell Mann after Mann left to join the staff at Missouri, now must replace another assistant coach. He has the advantage of having just interviewed candidates for Mann's job, so there should be several options atop his list.
Kampe declined to comment on Valentine's departure, neither to The News or in the press release from the university announcing the staff's loss.
At Loyola, Valentine will join a program that hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 1985, and hasn't won a league championship since 1987.
In Chicago, though, Valentine will be closer to his younger brother, Denzel, a former Michigan State star who plays for the Chicago Bulls.
That was a clear consideration in making the move.
"Leaving this place is not an easy decision," Valentine said. "And it won't be an easy transition because I'm gonna miss Oakland a ton. I'll take away a ton of things from Coach Kampe. I still believe he's one of the best coaches in the country. The fact he's been able to be a head coach for so long just proves that, and I am so thankful for him giving me an opportunity at 24 years old to be a Division I assistant coach.
"It means so much."
Valentine, a Lansing native who turned 26 late last month, played four years at Oakland, helping the team to 87 wins — making him the all-time winningest player in program history. He led the Golden Grizzlies to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2010 and 2011.
After his playing career, Valentine spent two years as a graduate manager at Michigan State, where Tom Izzo called him one of the best up-and-coming coaches in the nation. Kampe then hired him to be an assistant at Oakland, where he was on staff for a second-place finish in the Horizon League in 2015-16 and the school's first Horizon League regular-season championship this past season.
At the Final Four, he was named to Under Armour's 30-under-30 watch list by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
Valentine's departure marks the sixth Oakland assistant coach to leave in the last three seasons, joining Mann, and Saddi Washington, who left last offseason for Michigan, as well as Dionne Phelps, Darren Sorenson and Brandon Weems.