Tuesday morning marked the beginning of a new era for the Wildcats as Northwestern formally introduced Chris Collins as the university's new head basketball coach.
"This is a fresh start. It's a new beginning, it's fresh energy, and I'm excited about the future of Northwestern basketball," Collins said at the beginning of the press conference.
After spending 17 years at Duke assisting coach Mike Krzyzewski, Collins is ready to take on a leading role and is happy to be doing so in Evanston. Collins arrived in the Chicagoland area after the Blue Devils were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, and he wasted no time.
"My first priority was to spend time with the guys," Collins said. "I understand at the end of the day it's the players' program, it's about them, so I wanted to build a relationship right away with the guys I was going to go into battle with."
For Collins, this role isn't just about establishing a strong relationship with the basketball team, but with the entire Northwestern community as a whole. Building strong bonds throughout the university, he believes, will help build connections across campus and help when it comes time for recruitment.
"I think Northwestern has a lot to sell," Collins said. "You hear the name, you think of well-rounded excellence. There are plenty of players that want to be part of a situation like that. You're in Chicago, in my opinion, the best sports city in the world... I just believe there's guys out there that want to be a part of it. There are good players that are good students that want to play for Northwestern, so it's up to me to get out there and go get them."
After spending nearly two decades alongside Coach K and a lifetime with father and Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doug Collins, he's had plenty of opportunities to soak up advice from some of the sports' finest. But the new Northwestern coach says he never plans to stop learning.
"You never know everything about the game, you can always learn," Collins said. "It's amazing being around Coach K, here's a guy who's won everything you can win, and we'd be working with USA Basketball and he'd be sitting there taking notes. He's always wanting to learn more, how he can connect with his players and how you can evolve with your team. But I think the main thing -- no matter what you learn, you have to be yourself and you have to coach from your own style. And that's what I plan to do. I plan to take all the knowledge and wisdom I've gotten, and now it's on me to be my own coach, and that really excites me."
Now Collins is ready to make his mark in this new step in his career, and couldn't be happier for the chance to do so at Northwestern.
"It was very important for me to go to a place where I felt I could create my own legacy and program," he said. "I'm very excited about it."