College Basketball fans love the month of March because of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament where 64 of college's best teams begin their journey towards a national championship, better known as "March Madness".
The term "Madness" comes from the intensity and emotion of each game as well as the overall excitement of victory or the sadness of a stunning defeat. Every player steps up their game because there will not be a second chance.
The 1998 NCAA tournament wasn't any different for Bryce Drew of Valparaiso, Indiana but his faith in the Lord saw him through a tough year and helped him to over come adversity.
In four seasons at Valparaiso, Drew averaged 17.7 points per game 5.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds and was a two-time Mid-Continent Conference player of the year. Drew who was coached by his father, Homer throughout college, trusted in the Lord and led the 13th seeded Valparaiso Crusaders all the way to the Sweet Sixteen.
Bryce's senior year at Valparaiso was more of a test of his faith for him then he expected but in the 1997-98 basketball he soon came to realize that God was in control of everything.
"I was hurt early in the year and couldn't play our first few games of the season. It was really frustrating for me because everything was going so well for me and I wanted to have the textbook season. It didn't go well because I never fully recovered from the injury until a half way through the season. The first half of the season I played terrible but I finally started to play better in the second half."
Most college basketball fans will forever remember Bryce's 23 foot three pointer with 2.5 seconds left against the fourth-seeded Mississippi Rebels that swished through the hoop to give Valparaiso a miraculous 70-69 victory in that season where nobody really gave them a chance to win but few people know that it almost never happened.
"The week before the NCAA tournament, I suffered another injury and strained my hamstring. It was doubtful that I would get to play in our game against Ole Miss. because I wasn't able to practice with the team for the entire week. I prayed with some people to give me the peace that transcends all understanding. I was at peace and God worked a miracle in my life and healed the injury. As I prayed, I felt at peace and started to think about a bible verse."
Isaiah 40:31 "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
"When I took the shot, I first thought that it was going to fall short of the basket. But then it went through the hoop. I just kept saying in the excitement of it all 'Thank you Lord, Thank you Lord.' I know that it was the Lord's healing in my life that allowed me to be able to perform at the right time. I was really blessed by God to be able to run and play."
The Lord was about to bless Bryce for being faithful and waiting on Him to act at the right time.
Drew was drafted by the Houston Rockets that summer of 1998 as the 16th pick in the first round of the1998 NBA draft.
After spending two seasons with the Rockets, God had other plans in store for Bryce. This past summer, Bryce was traded to the Chicago Bulls in a move that brought him 2 hours away from his hometown of Valparaiso, Indiana.
The move made a childhood dream come true for Bryce because it brought him back home to his family but more importantly to the very team that he grew up watching as a kid.
He marveled at the things that the legendary Michael Jordan was doing with the Bulls but says that the NBA player that he followed with the most interest was Mark Price of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"Mark was a man I admired because of his openness about being a Christian. He is a person who took his God given talents and chose to honor the Lord with everything that he did. That is what made him one of the best point guards in the game. As the Starting point guard for the Bulls I would like to become a person of integrity and honor like Mark Price. We both play the same style of basketball."
The Chicago Bulls have seen many changes since the days of Michael Jordan and it's 6 World Championships. The team is going through a rebuilding stage and victories are few and far between. Bryce would like his career to grow and flourish with the Lord's guidance in his life but says that even through the adversity of a bad season God is the only constant. "It is very easy to get wrapped up in crowd and coaches and even the game but your really not playing for anyone accept God."
This young Christian man has started his walk for the Lord and has already made huge strides towards a life of fulfillment and heavenly rewards.
Bryce doesn't know what God has in store for the rest of his life but will never forget what the Lord said to him on the day that he rededicated himself:
Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."