Collins grew up in Northbrook, Ill., a Chicago suburb about 25 miles from the heart of the city, and graduated from Glenbrook North High School. At Glenbrook North, Collins earned Illinois Mr. Basketball and McDonalds All-American honors before enrolling at Duke in 1992.
Collins' used his local connections to lure Jon Scheyer, a fellow Glenbrook North alum, to Duke in 2006.
While Collins may not have a magnetic pull on Chicago-area recruits, especially without the promise of Coach K and Durham behind him, his credibility may help expand Northwestern's geographical and historical roots in the city and suburbs.
Some of the most prominent Wildcats in recent history, like John Shurna (Glen Ellyn), Drew Crawford (Naperville), Dave Sobolewski (Naperville), and Juice Thompson (Chicago), have come from Northwestern's backyard. It only makes sense that the new coach does, too.
He's a Duke lifer
As both a player and a coach, Collins has spent the better part of the past two decades and change under the tutelage of Mike Krzyzewski. He played at Duke from 1992-1996 and was captain his senior year, earning second-team All-ACC honors.
After playing a season of pro-ball in Finland, Collins joined Tommy Amaker, a fellow Blue Devil and the current head coach at Harvard, as an assistant coach at Seton Hall before coming back to Durham in July 2000 as an assistant coach. He was promoted to associate head coach just before the 2008 season and served as an assistant coach for 2012 United States Olympic team led by Coach K.
Turning Northwestern into Duke isn't something that will happen easily, if at all, but if anyone other than Coach K knows how to take an elite university to incredible heights on the basketball court, it's Collins. Only time will tell if the teachings of Coach K will work as well in Evanston as they worked in Cambridge, but its worth a shot if nothing else.
He's got a good pedigree
Collins is another branch on the Krzyzewski coaching tree, but he's also a branch on another prominent coach's family tree. Chris is the son of Doug Collins, the current coach of the Philadelphia 76ers and a four-time NBA all-star. An Illinois State alum, Collins played on the 1972 Olympic basketball team that was robbed of a gold medal. With his silver medal resting safely in a distant vault, Doug received a gold medal that the 2012 team earned in its place—his son's, who gave it to him.
He was destined for the job
Even before Bill Carmody was fired, Collins was the clear front-runner and fan favorite for the job. When Carmody's job status was up in the air after last season, Collins was at the top of the list of potential candidates, and soon as Carmody was fired this month, reporters immediately anointed the Duke associate head coach as the heir apparent.
Now that Collins is on his way to Evanston, it will be interesting to see how he handles the high expectations that the inherent microscopic inspection of job will bring and how the team, fans, and administration will react to the immediate effects of his coaching.
He's worked with Fred Hill
While the college basketball coaching community can easily be reduced to games of degrees of separation, Collins does have experience working with current Northwestern assistant coach Fred Hill. The two worked side by side as assistants as Seton Hall before Collins left for Duke and Hill left for Villanova.
Collins may or may not be inclined to retain Hill based on their brief relationship as co-workers, but by keeping Hill, Collins may also be keeping Jaren Sina. Sina recently de-committed from Northwestern after Bill Carmody was fired, but it was Hill who played a significant role in commitment to Northwestern in the first place. Both Collins and Sina have important decisions ahead of them. For Collins, the decision to keep Hill on board might make a world of difference.