One of the most accomplished young coaches in the country, Brian Wardle is in his third year at the helm of the Bradley men’s basketball program. The 14th head coach in the Braves’ history, Wardle enters the 2017-18 campaign ranked third among Division I coaches younger than 40 with 113 career victories.
In just two years on the Bradley sideline, Wardle has rebuilt the foundation for a Braves program looking to return to glory. One year after completely overhauling the roster and featuring the youngest team in the nation, Bradley ranked among the top 25 improved teams in the country by increasing its win total by eight victories, while posting its best finish in the Missouri Valley Conference in seven years.
Remaining committed to a youth movement as he establishes a culture for long-term success, the Braves also recorded their longest Valley winning streak since the 2008-09 campaign – all while starting four true freshmen. Bradley featured the MVC rookie leaders in points, rebounds and blocks with its overall 31.6 points per game from freshmen more than 15 points ahead of its closest conference competitor. Overall, four Braves have been selected to the MVC All-Freshman Team under Wardle’s leadership – double the next-highest program during the two-year stretch.
The success showcased by Wardle in just his two seasons is nothing new for the head coach. 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, Wardle led the Phoenix to a 24-7 mark in 2013-14, including 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 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.
The youngest head coach in Division I when he took over with the Phoenix, 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.
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. A 6-foot guard from Chicago Marshall High School, 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).
While building for success on the floor, Wardle has also made academic success and community involvement pillars of the Bradley program. The Braves recorded a program-record 3.29 cumulative grade point average at the conclusion of the 2017 Spring semester, with a conference-leading 10 student-athletes earning MVC Academic Honor Roll accolades. The Braves have also been very active within the Peoria community and consistently lead the athletic department in volunteer service, totaling more than 1,100 hours of community service in two years under Wardle’s leadership.
Following the 2013-14 season, Wardle added Skip Prosser Man of the Year honors to his collection, recognizing the head coach for not only success on the basketball court but also for displaying moral integrity off it as well.
A native of Willowbrook, Illinois, 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.