The 14th head coach in Bradley Basketball history, Brian Wardle begins his second year at the helm of the program as one of the most-accomplished young coaches in the country. The youngest coach in NCAA Division I basketball when he took over the Green Bay program in 2010 at age 30, Wardle (36) enters the 2016-17 campaign seventh among Division I coaches younger than 40 with 100 career victories.
In his first year with the Braves in 2015-16, Wardle completely overhauled the Bradley roster, setting a foundation for the future by leading the youngest team in college basketball, a squad that featured 10 true freshmen among the team's 12 active players. He remains committed to the youth movement as he establishes a culture for long-term success and the 2016-17 Bradley roster remains the youngest in the Missouri Valley Conference with 12 underclassmen among the 15 total players.
Prior to taking over the Bradley program in 2015, Wardle compiled a 95-65 (.594) overall record at Green Bay, a five-year run that culminated with consecutive 24-win seasons and three straight postseason appearances. The 2014 Horizon League Coach of the Year and NABC District 12 Coach of the Year, Wardle led the Phoenix to a 24-7 overall record in 2013-14, which included a 14-2 league record to claim the regular-season conference title and an automatic bid to the NIT. Highlighted by a 68-55 win at then No. 15 Miami, Wardle's final Green Bay squad followed with a 24-9 overall record in 2014-15 and earned an at-large selection to the NIT after finishing as runner-up in the Horizon League regular-season and postseason tournament.
Wardle’s Green Bay teams averaged 19 wins per season while facing stiff competition. After taking on NCAA Tournament teams Marquette, Wisconsin and Virginia during the 2011-12 season, Green Bay knocked off Big EAST champion Marquette during the 2012-13 campaign and eventual ACC champion Virginia during the 2013-14 season to go along with the 2014 victory at Miami. The Phoenix also beat Bradley’s Missouri Valley Conference rivals Evansville and Drake during the 2014-15 campaign.
Wardle’s recruiting efforts at Green Bay resulted in several players of note. Alec Brown was the 50th overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns after the 7-foot-1 center was named the 2014 Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year and finished fifth in school history with 1,678 career points. Brown is the only player in Green Bay history with more than 1,500 points, 750 rebounds and 300 blocked shots. A 6-foot guard from Chicago Marshall H.S., Keifer Sykes was the two-time Horizon League Player of the Year and can be found all over the Green Bay record books, finishing second on the school’s all-time scoring list with 2,096 career points and third with 526 assists. He is the only player in Horizon League history to accumulate 2,000 points, 500 assists and 400 rebounds (467).
That recruiting success has carried over to Bradley, where Wardle landed a pair of 2016 MVC All-Freshman Team players during his abbreviated recruiting cycle after taking over the program. Guard Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye and forward Luuk van Bree both earned MVC All-Freshman Team honors in 2016 and joined guard Ronnie Suggs among an elite group of Bradley players who have recorded at least 200 points and 100 rebounds as freshmen. The 2015-16 season marked the first in which multiple freshmen hit the two statistical thresholds in the same year and the list of 15 previous players in Bradley's freshman 200-100 club includes eight Bradley Athletics Hall of Famers, five Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Famers and seven who went on to become NBA draft picks.
While building for success on the floor, Wardle has made academic success and community involvement pillars of the Bradley program. The Braves recorded a program record 3.18 cumulative grade point average at the conclusion of the 2016 Spring semester. With 13 of the program's 14 players earning a spot on the Bradley Athletic Director's Honor Roll during the 2015-16 school year, Bradley was the only MVC team, and one of 27 programs from across the nation, to earn the 2016 NABC Team Academic Excellence Award. The Bradley Basketball program also led the Department of Athletics in its community service efforts, boasting the top average amount of service per student-athlete in a year that saw Bradley Athletics dedicate more than 4,200 hours of volunteer service.
A native of Willowbrook, IL, Wardle was a two-time all-state selection at Hinsdale Central High School, where he ranks as the school’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder. He went on to play collegiately at Marquette, helping the Golden Eagles to a pair of NIT appearances in 1998 and 2000. As a senior in 2000, Wardle served as team captain and finished as the second-leading scorer in Conference USA by pumping in 18.8 points per game.
After graduating from Marquette in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies, Wardle played professionally for two seasons in the NBA Development League and Continental Basketball Association, before beginning his coaching career as Director of Operations at Marquette from 2003-05. He was an assistant coach at Green Bay from 2005-10, before being named Phoenix head coach April 15, 2010.
Wardle is married to the former Lecia Schuetz, a soccer student-athlete during her collegiate career at Marquette. The couple has three children: daughters Mya and Emery, and son, Davin.