Men’s Basketball: Chris Collins tabbed Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year winner


Daily file photo by Joanne Haner

Coach Chris Collins. After leading Northwestern to the Big Dance for the second time in program history, Collins was named the recipient of the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year award.

Alex Cervantes, Senior Staffer

After shepherding Northwestern to its second-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, coach Chris Collins has been named the recipient of the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year award, prized annually to the nation’s top coach.

“Coach Phelan and his teams were always tough, and ‘tough’ is the perfect word to describe coach Collins and his team,” Angela Lento, vice president and co-founder of, said in a news release Thursday. “A second-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament this season was very unexpected. Do it once and people may say it was luck. Do it again and people should mention you among the best coaches in the country.”

Collins, who was bestowed with Big Ten Coach of the Year honors earlier this month, led the Wildcats to a 22-12 record. He oversaw a 12-8 display in conference play, which set the program record for most Big Ten wins in a season.

Despite a host of offseason departures and the forecast of another finish in the conference’s basement, Collins righted the ship in 2022-23. Behind the stellar play of Collins’ All-Big Ten backcourt tandem — senior guard Boo Buie and redshirt senior guard Chase Audige — NU nabbed its first AP Top 25 ranking since the squad’s 2020-21 campaign. The Cats also picked up the program’s first win against an AP No. 1, knocking off Purdue at home in February.

Marquee conference victories against the Boilermakers, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan State built an NCAA Tournament resume and come Selection Sunday, Collins had led NU to the Big Dance once again. The Cats then journeyed to Sacramento, California, defeating No. 10 Boise State in the round of 64 before falling to No. 2 UCLA in the round of 32.

Following a season of epic achievements, Collins and NU will look to keep the ball rolling in 2023-24 and beyond, with several cogs — notably Audige, Buie and senior forward Robbie Beran — mulling the possibility of running it back one final time in Evanston.

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Related Stories:
From job on the line to Big Ten Coach of The Year: How Chris Collins led Northwestern to another historic season
Men’s Basketball: Price: What next season entails for Buie, Audige, Beran and the program
Men’s Basketball: Despite furious second-half rally, Northwestern’s NCAA Tournament run fizzles out in 68-63 loss to UCLA