The Crusader tradition in the pros dates back to the 1940s. Don Warnke (1942-45) holds the distinction of being the first Valpo player to play professional basketball, taking the court for Cleveland of the National Professional League in 1945-46.
Valparaiso has then developed a strong tradition within the last two decades of preparing its players for professional playing careers. Over the last 20 years, 37 Crusaders have gone on to play professional basketball or baseball, highlighted by the drafting of Bryce Drew 16th overall by the Houston Rockets in the 1998 NBA Draft. Most recently, All-League honorees Ryan Broekhoff (Besiktas JK, Turkey) and Kevin Van Wijk (Oviedo CB, Spain) have inked professional deals to play basketball overseas.