Q&A: Program legend Bryant McIntosh begins first year as assistant coach


Daily file photo by Noah Frick-Alofs

Bryant McIntosh drives to the hoop. McIntosh was the leading scorer on the 2016-17 Wildcats, setting a program record for wins in a season.

Lucas Kim, Reporter

In March 2018, Bryant McIntosh stepped off the court for what would be his last time in a Northwestern uniform. Just over four years later, the program legend is back on the hardwood, this time as an assistant coach.

McIntosh was elevated to the role ahead of NU’s 2022-23 campaign, joining Talor Battle and newcomer Chris Lowery. At 27, the Indiana native is one of the youngest Power Five assistant coaches nationwide.

As a player, McIntosh holds the program record for assists in a game, season and career. He was named to the All Big-Ten second team as a junior, when he helped lead the Wildcats to their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance. After playing professionally in Belgium for a year, McIntosh returned to NU as assistant director of basketball operations, a position he held for three years.

The Daily spoke to McIntosh about his new position, development at NU and approach to coaching.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

The Daily: How does being an assistant coach differ from your previous role?

McIntosh: My daily basis is now more player-driven as far as getting in the gym with guys, helping them stay confident and work on their game and player development. And also recruiting –– being out on the road more, developing relationships with recruits and just trying to bring in the right athletes here.

The Daily: What sparked the change in roles?

McIntosh: Coach saw that I was ready. It was always the belief and my hope. I felt like I prepared myself for the situation, and (I’m) just excited for the opportunity.

The Daily: What have you learned over your past three years that will inform your approach to this season?

McIntosh: I’ve learned (about) the other side of the business. I’ve always been around the game of basketball, so I feel like I have been prepared for coaching. It’s mainly just the operations and that side of it that I was exposed to, and my other position has allowed me to appreciate all that is the college basketball business. Now, I get to do the fun and easy part.

The Daily: You’ve had a big video scouting role over the past few years, so now as a coach, how much of a say will you have in the team’s game plans during the season?

McIntosh: When I was in the video position, I would have my input and coach trusted me, but ultimately it fell on the assistants and what they felt would be best. Now, it gives me the freedom to have my own say. Everything we do is something that coach obviously approves of, so it will be great for me to be able to bring my own ideas and game plan.

The Daily: How different is it watching games from the sideline rather than actually playing?

McIntosh: The hardest part is not having any control. Now, I can voice my thoughts on things I want to bring to the guys. I can tell them what I think they should be doing or coach them up. But to not actually have the ball in my hands and be able to make the game decisions is probably the hardest part of being on this side of things.

The Daily: You are much closer in age to the players than almost any other coach in the country. Do you find that to be a factor in your coaching?

McIntosh: I try to look at it as a strength. I can really relate to the guys and communicate with them how they would communicate. In a lot of ways, in my heart, I’m still a player and can still (use my) voice and show them. That’s one of the strengths of mine –– a lot of coaches can teach and explain it. Not only can I do that, but I can also go out on the floor and show them exactly how it needs to be done.

The Daily: What is the main message about being a Wildcat basketball player that you want to get across to both recruits and current players?

McIntosh: I can speak from the heart about how much I love this place. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love it and my time here. I can also talk to everybody about what it’s like to play for Coach (Chris Collins). The things that a lot of other people can’t sell, I can. One thing I always tell the guys is that when I’m coaching you, I’m never gonna ask you to do something I haven’t already done. I’ve already believed in a place that had never won. So I can ask you to do that because I’ve done it, and I think there’s power in that.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @lucaskim_15

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