Bryant McIntosh commits to Northwestern

The relationships were built and sustained: Bryant McIntosh gave Chris Collins the good news on Monday evening during his in-home visit.

Bryant McIntosh thrives on surprising people.

It begins with his athleticism. The three-star point guard from Greensburg (Ind.) rose for an impressive alley-oop with Collins in attendance. As you can imagine, the head coach was thrilled.

It continues with his overall talent. Omitted from some top-100 rankings, McIntosh received some advice from Armon Gates.

McIntosh said that Gates reminded him of one thing: "Don't worry about it: It's not where you start, it's where you finish."

That same determination resulted in a watershed day for Northwestern basketball: On Monday evening, McIntosh informed in an exclusive story that he committed to Northwestern.

"It felt perfect," he said.

Over the course of two months, McIntosh gradually pulled his greatest surprise yet. He turned down offers from schools including Memphis, Iowa, Purdue, West Virginia, Missouri, Vanderbilt, Clemson and Xavier.

And McIntosh chose the Wildcats, confident he can guide the program to never-before-seen success. We can believe it: He joins four-star small forward Vic Law and a future solid role player in power forward Gavin Skelly, as Collins' first recruiting class grows to three members.

Collins and Gates arrived in Greensburg on Monday–presumably optimistic–and answered some final questions from the McIntosh family. That, really, was always the focus.

When McIntosh de-committed from Indiana State, the NU duo was among the first to call him. Collins even changed his July evaluation travel plans to accommodate watching McIntosh in action, and from then on, he barely ever missed a game.

Meanwhile, Gates (his lead recruiter) dominated on the trail. The NU assistant built relationships with his inner circle, including his mother, trainer and grandparents.

"He was in constant contact, not bugging everyone, but every couple of weeks he'd call my trainer–Darnel–and then he'd call my grandma and grandparents, and asked how they were doing," McIntosh said. "My grandma was sick so he's keeping up with the progress. He talked with my mom, and no one that recruited me before had talked to my mom.

"It was a big deal. It was eye opening to me. He was talking to me, pushing me. He really believes in me."

It took an excellent August visit to help seal his commitment. McIntosh showed up in Evanston with a convoy, and everyone at NU worked diligently to start closing the deal.

"I decided to do this because I went on a visit there and they blew me away," he said. "They blew everyone else away. We were comfortable there."

So the celebration began in Greensburg tonight, and will carry over to Welsh-Ryan Arena in future seasons. With his immense talent, McIntosh projects to be a four-year starter. He wanted the chance to build something fresh, and of course, will not settle for anything less than the school's first NCAA Tournament bid.

He spared no words:

"I think we have a special class already coming in… We could make the tournament in my freshman year… The Big Ten's a great conference, so if you perform well in conference, you have a great shot of doing that.

"I'll be shocked if we don't make the tournament by at least my sophomore year. We'll make a really deep run when I get older. By the end of my four years, we should be able to compete for a championship."

And wouldn't that be a surprise?

Bryant McIntosh is unafraid of expectations, and as we've seen, neither is Chris Collins. Welcome to the new age of Northwestern basketball: tournament aspirations, unbridled optimism, recruiting success.

Sure, they added another leader and their future point guard on Monday.

But who cares about where they start?

We're just looking forward to the finish.

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