Men’s Basketball: Freshman guard Boo Buie is for real and scary


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman) Boo Buie dribbles the ball. The freshman guard will look to contribute right away for the Wildcat

Boo Buie dribbles the ball. The freshman guard will look to contribute right away for the Wildcats.

Charlie Goldsmith, Reporter

It’s just Boo.

No one calls him Daniel, his given name. Even when he was in trouble at home, his mother called him Boo. When a science teacher asked him a question in class, it was Boo. Or when coach Chris Collins saw him play for the first time, introduced himself and asked the 6-foot-2 guard his name.

It was Boo.

“That’s what people called me when I was little,” he said. “And it stuck.”

He’s the only man of his name in college basketball, but Northwestern freshman Boo Buie doesn’t mind standing out. Collins said one of the first things he learned about Buie was that he’s “not bashful,” and Collins said he thinks Northwestern could use a player with that mentality right now.

The Wildcats lost over 60 percent of their scoring from last year and are in need of a guard who can make shots off the dribble. Buie hasn’t even played a real game yet, but he’s shown he can really shoot. In NU’s purple-white scrimmage, he led all scorers with 13 points and three 3-pointers, and he scored 18 off four from beyond the arc in the Cats’ exhibition against Quincy last week.

If there’s one defining image of NU’s preseason, it’s Buie getting the ball on the wing, dribbling a few times, pulling up well beyond the arc and nailing it.

“We need that,” Collins said. “It’s been no secret offensive production is something that has to be improved for us. When we’ve had our struggles, it’s been when we struggled to score. One of the things we feel he brings is that, when things break down, he can get his own shot. That’s in his DNA.”

Buie has always been a productive scorer, despite being a lightly-recruited high school player. One of the best shooters in the Northeast, Buie only held an offer from Massachusetts when Collins first saw him in Washington D.C in July 2018. And Collins only saw him by accident.

His primary focus entering the game was Tyrell Terry, a four-star guard who now plays at Stanford. Collins attended the Adidas Gauntlet, a high profile AAU Tournament, that summer to see Terry and some other prospects. Collins didn’t know much about Buie, but when he saw him shoot the ball he was hooked.

“I came out thinking, ‘Hey, he’s pretty good,’” Collins said. “His level of recruitment at that time was mostly mid-major, so he was a little bit under the radar. Playing against big prospects, eventually we said, ‘Hey, he can do it at this level.’ He still plays with a chip on his shoulder because he knows he was undervalued in the recruiting process.”

Buie committed two months after the Collins saw him for the first time. He didn’t even take a visit to campus before deciding he wanted to play for NU. Then, during his senior year of high school, Buie proved how he was being undervalued.

He averaged 26.5 points per game at a top prep school and became the second most highly rated recruit from New York by the end of his senior year.

Buie didn’t waver on his commitment, and now he’s arguably the most exciting player in the program. Against Quincy, he pulled up from 27 feet for a three-point shot and threw a half-court alley-oop pass to graduate guard Pat Spencer. The Cats didn’t have a single player who could make plays like those all last season.

Buie has barely missed from the field in the two preseason games that have been open to the public, and senior forward A.J. Turner believes he can keep up that production when the real games start.

“At this level, it’ll be difficult to come in and put up the same numbers he did in high school, obviously,” Turner said.“But I think he’s learning to expand his game, and everyone is really accepting him for who he is, knowing he was predominantly a scorer in high school.”

Buie admits he’s still adjusting to being a pure point guard. Collins wants the NU offense to be more free-flowing and uptempo this season, and that won’t happen if Buie shoots like he’s Russell Westbrook. The most common advice Buie has received so far is to be a floor general and get more players involved when he’s running the offense.

It’s unlikely Buie will be the team’s leading scorer right away, but he seems like a lock to lead the team in shots per minute — there isn’t another player on the roster as aggressive as him.

“You’re going to live with, at times, him taking a couple bad ones,” Collins said. “But we know that if you give him the freedom to be creative and get into the paint, he’s going to get shots and find ones for other guys.”

Collins said he’s certain Buie will make plenty of mistakes this season. He’s a freshman guard.

Despite that, Buie is going to be “thrown his into the fire and play a lot,” according to Collins. After his impressive preseason, it’s possible Buie becomes the first guard since Bryant McIntosh to start the first game of his freshman season.

While sophomore forwards Miller Kopp and Pete Nance are primed to be NU’s leading scorers, Buie will be the team’s spark-plug. Kopp and Nance will probably take the most shots, but Buie is going to get his turn to run the show often.

The Cats need Buie’s scoring so badly that Collins said he is willing to live with the mistakes he makes along the way.

“When they recruited me here, they told me they needed a point guard who can really push the ball,” Buie said. “It’s just like football; as a point guard you’re the quarterback of the team. I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of opportunity to play, as long as I perform the way I need to.”

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Twitter: @2021_Charlie