Drew Gladstone has always maintained one mantra.

It’s all about the kids.

So, when an incredible opportunity presented itself this summer, it was far from an easy decision for the former St. Luke’s coach who will be moving on to Indiana University to be a Graduate Assistant.

“This wasn’t part of my plan,” Gladstone said. “I didn’t plan on leaving this year, but it was something that was presented to me. I’m a believer in trying to stretch yourself and get outside your comfort zone and Indiana is Indiana so it’s something I had to take a crack at. I’m lucky and honored to be considered for that spot, it’s going to be a great staff and there’s a lot of tradition in the program.”

It was through the AAU circuit with his program—High Rise Academy—along with scouts visiting St. Luke’s to recruit and getting a glimpse of the inner workings of the program that led to the offer for Gladstone.

“I had a couple connections between people I knew and recruiting,” Gladstone said. “My name popped up with them looking to fill a position, they reached out and a couple people called on my behalf and they offered me the spot. It’s a who’s-who and them doing a little research.”

Before St. Luke’s, Gladstone was on the staff at Manhattan College, and his foray back into the Division I game had a lot to do with the prestige of Indiana.

Gladstone will be working on the basketball side of things, scouting teams and players and coaching, while also taking classes towards a Master’s degree.

“If you want to be a coach, it’s the exact way you want to get your foot in the door,” Gladstone said. “And Indiana is Indiana, so it’s hard to turn that down.”

In his three years at the helm of the Storm, Gladstone changed the culture at the New Canaan school.

St. Luke’s went 15-10 playing with only five players in his first year, and the last two seasons went a combined 49-2—winning back-to-back FAA and NEPSAC Class C titles.

“It started with us building a culture of working hard, having kids with like-minded goals and aspirations and creating that winning mentality of competing every rep, every play, every time we came on the court,” Gladstone said of the upward trajectory. “The second year was really special where we were able to beat some really high-level teams, but it was all about the kids buying in and wanting to be a part of a great program. I couldn’t have done it without them and I was lucky to be able to coach kids like that.”

Even with him gone, Gladstone is confident about the shape in which he is leaving the program.

“We’re going to have an amazing core coming back,” he said. “Jonas Harper has been the starting point guard for three years, and between Andrew Varoli, Jackson Salvala and Jackson Ryan, those guys have been a part of championship teams, so they have the formula and those guys understand what it takes. I think we’ve really done a good job between my staff and the kids and the administration of establishing that culture and it’s going to be able to sustain itself for at least the next couple of years.”

When all is said and done, Gladstone took the most pride about molding young men and providing them a chance to play at the next level with a free college education—like he did for Walter Whyte (Boston University) and Joel Boyce (Coppin State).

“The true highlight of being at St. Luke’s was helping with the growth of these kids,” Gladstone said. “And helping kids like Walter and Joel go to college for free.”

aparelli@bcnnew.com @reportedbytheAP