Coaching search profile: Chris Collins

  • 03/22/2017 8:39 am in

After nine seasons in Bloomington, Tom Crean is out as Indiana’s head coach and the search for his replacement is underway.

Inside the Hall will profile some of the candidates who are being discussed for the job over the coming days. Our ninth profile takes a closer look at Northwestern coach Chris Collins.

In his fourth season at the helm in Evanston, Chris Collins took Northwestern to the NCAA tournament. It’s a story that won’t soon be forgotten.

But how did Collins get to this point?

The son of Doug Collins, a former NBA all-star and coach, Chris is young but a seasoned veteran in coaching. He was a McDonald’s All-American who played four seasons at Duke before playing professionally for two seasons in Finland.

It didn’t take long for Collins to get the itch to move into coaching. His first stop was as an assistant in the WNBA for the Detroit Shock for a season. From there, Collins got into college coaching with an assistant coaching position at Seton Hall for two seasons. In 2000, he returned to Duke as an assistant coach. He spent 13 seasons in Durham under Mike Krzyzewski before landing the job at Northwestern in the spring of 2013.

Collins was on the bench for two national championships, eight ACC tournament championships and four ACC regular season championships at Duke. The list of players he worked with includes Jason Williams, Mike Dunleavy, Chris Duhon, J.J. Redick, Gerald Henderson, Austin Rivers, Kyrie Irving and Kyle Singler.

At 42 years old, Collins has a bright future ahead of him.

Over four seasons at Northwestern, he’s compiled a 73-60 record. In 2016-17, he led the Wildcats to the NCAA tournament round of 32. He’s recruited at a very high level compared to previous Northwestern standards, reeling in Bryant McIntosh, Vic Law, Scottie Lindsey and Dererk Pardon, among others. With most its core returning, Northwestern should be a tournament team again next season.

Which brings us to a crossroads in this discussion: Would Collins even consider an in-conference jump to Indiana? Coaches switching positions within a conference is a rarity.

There have been suggestions in the national media that Collins ultimately aspires to coach in the NBA and that he’s very comfortable on the sidelines in Evanston. Chicago is home to Collins and with this year’s run, he’ll be welcome at Northwestern for as long as he wants to be there.

But if he’s interested, Collins is certainly a candidate that deserves consideration, for a couple of reasons.

First, he’s a midwest guy with roots in Chicago. In Bloomington, his upside on the recruiting trail would be much higher. He has experience recruiting McDonald’s All-Americans at Duke and learned from a Hall of Fame coach in Krzyzewski. He has a track record with NBA stars that he can sell. He’s young enough to be a long term solution, is familiar with the Big Ten and showed how good of a coach he is by taking a doormat program at Northwestern to heights it hasn’t experienced before.

Final Analysis: Collins didn’t win Big Ten coach of the year this season, but he was deserving of the honor. Northwestern was an average program, at best, before his arrival and now the Wildcats are thriving despite not having elite talent. Northwestern pushed Gonzaga to the brink in the round of 32 last weekend. With better talent and resources, could Collins build a national power?

Filed to:

  • GeneralRMK

    Let’s not be silly with these. Richard Pitino and Chris Collins are not leaving Big Ten schools for another Big Ten school.

  • IUGRADUATE

    He might not but who knows?

  • N71

    You’d be great working with someone like Elon Musk. I can hear you now, “Pay Pal will never work?”, “Who would ever want a performance electric car?”, “space isn’t for private companies, leave that to the government”, etc. Isn’t the purpose of a vehicle like this (internet board) to speculate, sometimes wildly, that’s part of the entertainment. If we were always measured and responsible where’d the fun be in that? Brad Stevens! Take that.

  • Koko

    If he aspires to be an NBA coach I would suggest he go interview for the soon
    to be open head coach position with the Oklahoma Thunder.
    The odds of him coming here are in the winning the lottery range.

  • Arch Puddington

    The pedigree is great, the demeanor is great, and the product on the floor is solid. His win totals have improved every year, and he seems poised to keep Northwestern above its historical norm.

    At the same time, he still only has two winning seasons on his short resume as head coach, and at least as of this moment, only one 3-star player committed for next year. (He is still in the running for a few 4-star players, so perhaps his class will improve in the coming weeks). Is that enough to believe he can take IU to the top? It’s a thin record, albeit a promising one. And is he even interested? Seems like Duke might be his preferred landing spot, or maybe even the NBA.

    Bottom line: I won’t be disappointed if he is the guy, but I will be nervous about it. Just not enough to go on.

  • pcantidote

    If we hire him, he does well and then he leaves us for Duke, I’ll never get over it. I’m not sure our feeble status as a blue blood could handle that, nor could I.

  • IULore

    He could well bet the heir apparent for Coach K

  • pcantidote

    He could, and I don’t want IU to be his last proving ground before he makes the leap. Nothing could cement our status as second tier more.

  • Fifer39

    Isn’t there some kind of lawsuit hanging over him at NW? Don’t know the details but not sure if it’s an issue given FGs comments. He fits the bill I guess but I don’t think he’s our next coach.

  • pcantidote

    Photo caption contest (enter yours below) —

    “Here is the church, here is the steeple, when you open the doors you better hope I don’t run out into the arms of those evil Duke people!”

  • Fifer39

    “He’s behind you.
    Pardon?
    Yeah.”

    (Yours is better.)

  • Hoosierkamp

    Everything I hear from Duke fans is Jeff Capel

  • Arch Puddington

    His dress rehearsal sure didn’t go well when Coach K was out this year.

  • HoosierStuckInKY

    Richard Pitino?? If we fired Tom Crean to get Richard Pitino….No bueno.

  • N71

    Conceptually he has a pretty good thing forming there at Northwestern, it may be more appealing to him than Duke or IU, which both come with huge expectations. If you put on his shoes for a second you get to live in Chicago where his family seems to be rooted based mostly on speculation due to his dad dude seems to make every game. Northwestern is a little like Duke culturally, an elite, high end academic university so he’s familiar with fighting for resources with the lacrosse, fencing, and crew squads. You play in a league that gives you the resume needed to make the tournament and be respected (seeding). You’ve had slight success and you’re already beloved by Northwestern folks. Another year or two and you’ll be able to recruit Chicago’s 4 and 5 stars perhaps. I’d stay and earn a higher income over time like Coach K did at Duke. Trying to follow a legend isn’t all that fun, forging your own path would be a blast. I’d stay put if I were him.

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    “Prayer: Coach, you’re doing it wrong.”

  • pcantidote

    Was just thinking the same thing. Maybe K needs to fake another back injury to give him another trial, but man that team kind of imploded without K, and it wasn’t the first time that happened.

  • N71

    “the iceberg with blue cheese please…heard its excellent here.”

  • pcantidote

    I can see that as well. I just don’t see IU as a destination for him. You’d always have to worry about Duke, the NBA or whatever.

  • pcantidote

    I like what you did there.

  • SCHoosier

    Collins waited a long time to leave Duke..for NW. I just don’t see him turning his back on that program to go to another B-10 school. If he can recruit consistently (and that’s a big if at NW) Collins can have a lot of success with the Wildcats. Love to have him..just don’t think he will make that move.

  • ArghSonOfOhCrap

    Of all the coaches on the list Chris Collins would probably be a very good coach. I think I am looking for someone a little more proven.

    ______side note___________

    Michael Porter Sr was an assistant coach at Washington and has since been let go due to coaching change at Washington. Michael Porter Jr is the number 1 overall an Jontay a top 25 recruit and they just de-committed from Washington. Solution figured out then hire Michael Porter Sr as an assistant.

    I think he has an interview with Calapari… lol JK no idea.

  • pcantidote

    Am I remembering correctly that there is some Porter/IU connection or did I just dream that up?

  • Shaggy_C

    I believe Sr. already got hired as an assistant at Missouri.

  • HoosierStuckInKY

    He played under Coach K who played under Knight. Collins is effectively Coach Knight’s grandson, right? Does this qualify as a ‘double-check-plus?’ Perhaps a ‘single-check-plus?’

  • Shaggy_C

    Hadn’t heard that, but did some digging – it’s a one year player named Johnnie Vassar who transfered away: “Vassar alleges that Collins berated him in front of teammates, saying he “sucked” at basketball, and that his transfer was the result of “a campaign of harassment, pressure, and deception.”…Vassar alleges Northwestern put him in an “internship” under which he did janitorial work and asked about his willingness to accept a cash payment “to go away.”

    Not a great look.

  • pcantidote

    You guys are going to think I’ve lost my mind (assuming you weren’t there already), but I’ve found myself now consistently thinking that if we cannot get Stevens or Donovan we should just take the gamble on Fife. I know it’s crazy and we wouldn’t consider him if he didn’t go to IU, but I really think he is going to be a rock star when he gets his shot.

  • ArghSonOfOhCrap

    Darn missed it by a couple of days.

  • pcantidote

    The ears of every former player under Knight just perked up. Lawsuit?!? Hmmmm….

  • iugradmark

    How long before we start crossing off some of these names. For the coaches that are out of the tourney, if we haven’t reached a deal with them, it would seem that we are focusing elsewhere or they are not our first choice. Chris, Archie, Gregg are all out. Other major conference hires have concluded already yet we seem to be still looking.

  • pcantidote

    I don’t know. His quote about his interest in the job was pretty clear.

  • pcantidote

    Good point.

  • ArghSonOfOhCrap

    I totally agree with you….. you have lost your mind! JK

    Actually I have about thought about this some time and I have no clue who I would like to take the helm. Part of me wants BD first then Archie Miller but then I see all the other names and have no clue. Most ITH’ers have made really good arguments. The write-ups Alex has on the coaching prospects makes me say yeah that the one after I read each of them.

  • ArghSonOfOhCrap

    I just don’t know… It[‘s been all hush hush just like FG said it was going to be.

  • pcantidote

    While I think it is too soon to draw any conclusions about anyone, I do think that the longer this thing goes the more we will be able to make some inferences.

  • PS IU

    Will IU have a new coach by the first week of April? Or will the new coach be announced after the tournament?

  • GeneralRMK

    I’m glad you are anxiously hitting refresh on ITH to find the profiles for Jay Wright, Roy Williams and Coach K, too.

  • LeeTimmer

    Collins is a promising, young coach, but I’m sure he’d jump to Duke at the first opportunity.

  • iugradmark

    If we were coming off of some other situation, perhaps they would take a risk on Fife but I just don’t see FG wanting to hire someone without a proven track record at a semi-major program.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    Collins is an excellent, young coach, and if he was the guy hired, I’d be very happy. He’s not my first choice. I’d rather have White or Donovan, but he’s in that next group with Archie and company for me.

  • Fifer39

    I guess we’ve not heard the other side of the story and some of this will be the messiness that ensues when there’s a coaching change. Let’s hope ours doesn’t descend into this.

  • Fifer39

    That’s what TC said too.

  • Fifer39

    I think officially it’s a ‘step-single-check-plus’.

  • ArghSonOfOhCrap

    ZOIKS…..

  • Sandra Wilson

    There’s no way to know what any of these guys are thinking. Why would anyone at I.U. want Pitino for their coach ? One good season with some kids I wouldn’t want to see playing for us. After watching Collin’s offense and defense, I’d offer him the job first to turn down. If he did, I’d go from there.

  • John D Murphy

    I don’t think so. It is the chance to not be compared to Coach K. Roy said no to Dean once before going home on a death bed plea and the Kansas fans didn’t appreciate what Roy had done. It is a catch 22. Duke would only want him if he were really successful at IU but the more successful he would be, the less likely he would be to leave. Just my opinion.

  • John D Murphy

    It’s a little closer than 3rd cousins twice removed on your mother’s side.

  • John D Murphy

    He sucks every time Coach K has to sit with some ailment. Please for the love all that is Holy, let it be Jeff Capel.

  • Creek0512

    It’s worked out okay for Kansas.

  • I think he has a winning record against IU. But no thanks. We can do better.