Sports

Buchanan inducted into Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame

By FRED KRONER
fred@mahometnews.com

As Craig Buchanan reflects on his induction last weekend into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, the biggest significance is the name on the plaque.

But, not his name.

“I’m glad that Mahomet’s name is there,” he said. “The fact that Mahomet’s name is up there is more important than my name. I am happy for Mahomet.

“If they just had “Mahomet-Seymour” and not my name, that would be fine with me. It’s more of a town than a personal accomplishment.”

Buchanan, a 1993 M-S graduate and the school’s second-ever 1,000-point career scorer, joins a short list of former Bulldog basketball stars in the Hall of Fame.

It’s just him and Brett Melton, a 2016 inductee.

Buchanan shared the experience of Saturday’s ceremony with his former coaches, Randy Sallade and Ric Rose, as well as three former teammates, and his family.

“To be able to take people (to the banquet) and be with them, they got to experience it with me,” Buchanan said. “I felt like it was more than an award for me.

“That was rewarding for me. I played with great guys and for great coaches.”

Buchanan and his wife (the former Casey Taylor, an M-S alum) have two daughters, 13-year-old Avery and 10-year-old Hunter.

The Hall of Fame ceremony allowed him to reinforce points he has made previously.

“My kids got to see what good, hard work and where sacrifices can get you,” Craig Buchanan said.

“There were no Friday night dances for me, no movie nights.

“All I did was work out. My wife and I have been together since high school. She knows how I used to be.”

The devotion and dedication to his sport of choice extended into the summer.

“I’d set my alarm for 6 a.m. and I’d be working out by 6:30,” he said.

The overriding goal was not to see how many points he could eventually score.

“I had goals like to get up 1,000 shots a day (in practice), get a Division I scholarship and start for a Division I team once I got there,” he said.

His era contributed to his inspiration.

“When I look back, the thing I think about is how hard it was to compare yourself,” Buchanan said.

“There was no Internet, no YouTube videos. There was none of that.

“That was a motivation to me to continue working hard. I never knew where I’d rank (with other players from across the country).”

When the thought crossed his mind that he could take a day off, Buchanan quickly discounted it.

“It was a constant fire,” Buchanan said. “If I didn’t work out, I knew someone else was working out.

“I didn’t want to fail. Fear of failure is what was driving me. The only way I knew was to work hard every day.”

His effort paid off. He scored what was then a school record 1,653 points at M-S and landed a scholarship to Florida Atlantic University as it transitioned to Division I status.

The 6-foot-4, 185-pounder was a three-year starter in college, scoring 1,501 career points and was selected for that school’s Hall of Fame in 2007, the second year the university honored former athletes.

The message Buchanan hopes his children receive is that results aren’t immediate.

“You can do these fun things, or you can make sacrifices and be rewarded later on,” he said. “It’s fun for them to get to see the result of hard work.

“It’s not instant gratification, but years of work can get you somewhere, no matter where you’re from, no matter your circumstances. You can accomplish what you want. You just have to work.”

The Buchanans’ daughters, seventh-grade Avery and fifth-grade Hunter, are involved in various activities. Besides joining the Hall of Fame last weekend, Craig Buchanan spent part of his time watching Avery in a volleyball tournament.

“I enjoy watching my kids go through it,” Buchanan said. “When something happens, I catch myself wondering, ‘How will they react to that?’

“Watching my girls compete is the funnest thing I’m doing. It’s way more fun than when I played.”

The Illinois Basketball Coaches Association inducted its charter class in 1973. Until recently, Buchanan wasn’t aware of the organization.

‘I didn’t know any of that, and I didn’t care,” he said. “I didn’t care about individual awards.

“Who is more deserving than someone else? How do you pick someone? Awards are awards, but you have to step back. Awards are a small part of a big picture.”

Buchanan is now part of a big picture from the state of Illinois that encompasses former collegiate All-Americans, former NBA all-stars, coaches and executives.

“That Mahomet, such a small town, has someone in there, I am very thankful for that,” Buchanan said. “When I grew up here, it was much smaller and hardly known at all. I’ve seen the town grow and blossom.

“It’s mind-boggling now that I’m on that list. I am smiling about it, but I am very proud that the Mahomet name is there with my name.”

In September, Buchanan will have more honors coming his way.

He is one of six former M-S students who will be inducted into the Mahomet-Seymour Foundation Hall of Fame.

The ceremony for the second induction class will take place in conjunction with the Sept. 28 homecoming football game against Effingham.

 

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