Two-time state champion. Two-time conference MVP. First-team AP all-state selection as a senior. Bryant McIntosh compiled quite the list of accomplishments while playing high school ball in Indiana. And Saturday he returns to his home state for a matchup with Butler.
Despite McIntosh's impressive high school resume, he's never played at Hinkle Fieldhouse, which is nicknamed "Indiana's Basketball Cathedral" and happens to be home to the Butler Bulldogs. Hinkle is located in northern Indianapolis, roughly an hour northwest from McIntosh's high school in Greensburg, well within range for family and friends to see him in action again.
"Certainly I'll be excited to come home and play in front of some friends and family, especially since it will be our only time playing in Indiana. That'll be nice," McIntosh said at practice Tuesday.
The McIntosh faithful will probably be out in full force to support NU's starting point guard, but there will be a lot more eyes on this game than a typical Northwestern non-conference contest. The game will be nationally televised on FOX, an opportunity for Chris Collins to introduce Northwestern basketball and his large group of freshmen to the country.
Atop Northwestern's priorities will be avoiding scoring droughts, a problem which has plagued NU in most of their games. McIntosh knows their offensive mentality might need some alterations to avoid those difficult stretches.
"At a certain point, we were all like I'll just go get us a bucket. I think that's one thing a good team learns how to do is be disciplined and run the offense and trust the offense to work with each other to get that bucket."
McIntosh is having to make some physical adjustments to the college game as well. In high school, he often sat out much of the second half because his team was winning by so much. For Northwestern, McIntosh is playing more minutes than anyone else on the team, averaging 33.7 per game. The workload comes with a lot of extra preparation.
"It's a lot of making sure your taking care of your body. A lot of ice baths, recovery boots, stay off your feet when you get an opportunity and rest. And make sure you keep your weight up. That's probably the hardest thing for me is to kind of force myself to eat sometimes when I'm not hungry."
The training off-the-court has helped McIntosh start the season off strong. He's averaging 8.7 points and 5 assists per game and bringing flow to the offense that was absent in NU's attack last season.
While the overall performance has been solid, McIntosh has had some good nights and some bad nights. His eight consecutive points in the final minutes against North Florida were instrumental in the Wildcats' comeback victory. He would follow that game up with four points and four assists against Elon. The consistency isn't there yet for the McIntosh, but Chris Collins likes how his young point guard is performing.
"I think he's done a great job. Is he going to have his ups and downs? Absolutely," Collins said. "But what he's done in the first six games, I think he's played really well. He's confident. He's learning. He's getting better, and he's doing a really good job so far. I'm pleased with where he's at right now."
Butler will provide McIntosh and Northwestern its toughest test in the non-conference schedule. The Bulldogs upset North Carolina just last week and are currently ranked 23rd in the nation. FOX is hyping Butler senior point guard Alex Barlow, but perhaps the man guarding him will steal the show Saturday, because Bryant McIntosh is ready to show Indiana his progression on the college level.