Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Men’s Basketball: Northwestern’s second consecutive March Madness bid serves a testament to Buie, Collins’ mutual belief

Graduate+student+guard+Boo+Buie+runs+the+offense%2C+while+coach+Chris+Collins+watches+on+from+the+bench.
Daily file photo by Henry Frieman
Graduate student guard Boo Buie runs the offense, while coach Chris Collins watches on from the bench.

Minutes after purple and white confetti shot atop an exuberant Northwestern men’s basketball squad, smothering each corner of Welsh-Ryan Arena’s floor for the second consecutive season, coach Chris Collins and graduate student point guard Boo Buie sat side-by-side in the media room on Selection Sunday.

An underrecruited prospect and a coach considered down and out just two years ago beamed with pride and determination, knowing that years of preparation and lessons led to this fateful day.

They won just three Big Ten games during Buie’s freshman year, picking up six conference victories the following season. After a sub-.500 campaign in 2021-22, Collins’ days at the helm appeared numbered. Still, Collins said he and Buie never lost faith in one another.

“I’m sure there were times he was frustrated; there were times I was frustrated,” Collins said of his point guard. “But, we never bailed on each other. It was always like ‘Hey, we’re gonna do this.’ For us to be able to get to last year, and now this year for him to have the success he’s had individually has been amazing.”

Donning sleek black postseason hoodies, the pair breathed a collective sigh of relief as they controlled in the wide-ranging emotions of a historic moment. The Wildcats had just earned a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where they will face eighth-seeded Florida Atlantic in Brooklyn, New York.

Buie, a player ranked outside the 2019 class’ top 150 national high school recruits, will play tournament hoops in his home state, sporting the pedigree of a nationally feared playmaker.

“There’s a poster in my locker, it says 318th national rank,” Buie said. “When I was coming out of high school, that’s what they thought I was. But, coach — he thought differently.”

For the first time in school history, NU punched its ticket to back-to-back dances. And, the unprecedented performances took root under Collins’ proverbial program renaissance, a feat engineered by Buie’s backcourt brilliance.

When he reflected on the whirlwind journey he’d undergone alongside Buie for five years, Collins couldn’t reel in his emotions any longer. 

“Forget about as a player, just to see his personal growth as a man, as a leader — those are the things as a coach you value more,” Collins said with tears welling up. “You love the winning, you love the development piece… for him to be here for five years and watch him grow into the man he is now is pretty special.”

Buie, a player Collins urgently recruited during his family vacation, earned significant playing time as a true freshman, but he experienced a number of growing pains on the road to national superstardom. 

Collins said Buie’s career trajectory reminds him of the college basketball stories he came to love growing up.

“You came in as a freshman, and you had to figure things out,” Collins said. “You had the talent, but you had to learn how to be successful and play. That’s what happened with Boo. I threw him in the fire right away.”

The graduate student fought through injuries, mounting losses and a bevy of doubt surrounding the program in his early stages in Evanston. Through it all, the point guard said he’s as much indebted to his coach as Collins consistently insists he’s indebted to Buie.

Buie said his five-year journey has flown by, and he’s cherishing every last moment.

“I came in thinking I knew everything,” Buie said. “But, I didn’t know a thing. I was still young, I had so much to learn.”

For Buie, leadership reflected his biggest lesson — both on and off the court. 

He said interacting with his coaching staff and different personalities has allowed him to resonate with wider audiences, molding him into a better leader and a better man.

“You can’t just come to practice and try to yell at someone or try to tell someone what to do,” Buie said. “You gotta really let them know you care about them and find time outside of basketball … Growing up, it’s been a huge credit to the university and just me being here these past five years. It’s just been super special.”

Once the press conference drew to a close, Buie returned to the hardwood where he’d hit countless clutch shots, displayed the nation’s most lethal giant-killing floater and cemented a legendary legacy. 

As the celebration’s confetti still covered the court, the arena’s anointed king greeted every last fan who approached him, signing autographs and taking photos. While Buie’s storied career inside Welsh-Ryan Arena ended in early March, there’s still several unwritten collegiate chapters left for him to pen.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @jakeepste1n 

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