GREENSBURG, INDIANA— On September 3rd, 2013, a high school senior basketball player sat across a table from a college basketball coach in the high school student’s kitchen. The high school player and his family had just finished a terrific dinner with the coach prepared by the player’s mom. The high school boy slid three poker chips across the table. One said “All”, one said “N” and the other said the date.
To any poker player, these chips wouldn’t make any sense, but to the college coach, those two words were one’s he had been waiting to see.
The college coach was Chris Collins and the high school player was Bryant McIntosh. That’s how McIntosh told Chris Collins he was committing to Northwestern— with poker chips inscribed with the words Chris Collins and his staff had used throughout McIntosh’s recruitment, “all in”. It was McIntosh’s grandmother’s idea.
“It was a night I’ll always remember,” McIntosh says.
His success in high school lead him to back-to-back state championships and the decision to reopen his recruitment. McIntosh originally committed to play for Indiana State in the Missouri Valley Conference. In the spring of 2013, he reopened his recruitment. As an Indiana native looking to play Division I, he picked Northwestern over Purdue. Surprisingly, for the back-to-back Greensburg High School state championship winner, he never received an Indiana offer.
When Bryant McIntosh stepped on campus his freshman year, he had confidence that he was going to make an impact on the team. But how much of an impact could he make? As he begins his third year, the junior guard has a lot to be proud of.
He’s come a long way since his high school days.
The players know it. The coaches know it. The Big Ten knows it. Stephen Curry knows it. Bryant McIntosh knows it. To him, that’s all that matters. Bryant McIntosh is arguably one of the best guards in the Big Ten, but his name didn’t show up on any preseason Big Ten Teams.
How could an elite player miss the preseason Big Ten Teams?
Well, it could be the rebuilding of the program, or it could be Northwestern’s name. To most people who know the Big Ten well, he’s just under-the-radar.
For McIntosh, he’s okay with that. He knows how good he is, his team knows how good he is, other coaches know how good he is, and other teams know how good he is.
The outside noise doesn’t matter at all. The preseason lists, the award lists; none of those matter. He’s here for three reasons. To play college basketball, to have a shot at the NBA, and for a third reason he can’t even say out loud.
“I think it’s coming but just being able to do it with these guys, I think it’s going to be very special,” says McIntosh. “That’s just something that I get cold chills thinking about.”
McIntosh is referring to the NCAA Tournament. A dream he’s had his eyes set on for a long time, but especially since he has arrived at Northwestern. It’s what he believes his favorite part of Northwestern is, even though it hasn’t happened yet.
He knows if he continues to play the way he is, he will get the recognition he deserves and Northwestern basketball will get the recognition it deserves. To get that recognition? McIntosh believes any way Northwestern can get it’s name out will benefit them. One of those ways, for him, has been the Steph Curry Camp the past two summers.
McIntosh has had the opportunity to spend the past two summers as a counselor at Steph Curry’s summer camp. He’s surrounded by the MVP in the NBA and elite players from colleges and universities throughout the United States.
“Just being able to share that time and rub elbows with Steph is an unbelievable opportunity,” said McIntosh.
Not only did McIntosh appreciate the camp for himself, but he also appreciated the national recognition Northwestern received from it. This is just another way McIntosh is selfless, by not only going for himself, but to better the program he’s now co-captain of.
“Having that opportunity to go over there, showcase what I could do and kind of represent Northwestern and myself and the team it was a good opportunity,” said McIntosh. “But I think it was also good for the program to get a little bit of respect too.”
McIntosh knows what he has to do. He has confidence in himself as a leader and as a captain to help Northwestern make it’s first NCAA Tournament. His confidence, his leadership, and the support system he has behind him have been instrumental in his success so far.
McIntosh has taken a step forward each offseason as he continues to write his name in to Northwestern record books. This season, he’s ready to take another big step. His ability to run the floor and create shots not only for himself, but also for others is the type of basketball he grew up playing and what he thinks is the right way. This upcoming season, if he continues to develop as a constant scoring threat on the floor, teams will have a hard time guarding him. McIntosh’s strong play not only benefits him and his team, but himself for the future and his career.
McIntosh is a strong, under-the-radar player. He tunes out the outside noise, knowing he’ll get the recognition he deserves when the time is right. He has confidence in himself, in his game, in his teammates, in his coaches and in his future. He’s one of the best, and he knows it.
As for the future after Northwestern? McIntosh has his eyes set on the NBA. But for now, he’s running Chris Collins’ team. For Collins, that’s exactly what he wants.
“Bryant is an elite player, an elite point guard at the college level...I love that he’s the guy running my team. And I’ll take him any day of the week.”