Happy for his hometown: IBCA Hall of Famer Craig Buchanan gives nod to Mahomet for support

Craig Buchanan has never cared about the trophies or awards.

So when it was announced that Buchanan would be inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association state Hall of Fame in early December, he wasn't excited that his standout career would finally be recognized.

Instead, he was happy for his town. Mahomet. The only town he'll ever call "home."

"My first thought about hearing about the Hall of Fame was that I was happy more for Mahomet than I was for me," Buchanan said. "I remember what Mahomet used to be and how small it was. I've watched it grow over the years and it continues to be a great community."

Buchanan was officially recognized as part of the IBCA Hall of Fame Class of 2018 last Saturday in a banquet at Redbird Arena in Normal.

"It was pretty cool," Buchanan said. "The biggest thing I got to enjoy about the event was getting to take my family, my two daughters and to take a few of my former teammates. That was really fun."

Buchanan starred at Mahomet-Seymour from 1989 to 1993. He helped the Bulldogs go 81-30 in his career. Led by Buchanan and head coach Randy Sallade, M-S won a regional championship over Buchanan's four years.

He is just one of seven male M-S players to score 1,000 points. Buchanan's 1,653 points rank second all-time at M-S, trailing only 2000 graduate Brett Melton. Buchanan was named the All-Area Player of the Year by The News-Gazette in 1993.

"High point of my career was the last game that I played," Buchanan said. "Even though we lost, it was the last game. We packed out the gym. I made the last shot to tie it up and it didn't officially tie it up. My foot was on the line, and the other team won. That was the pinnacle of it.

"The support that I got after that meant more to me than any of the awards that I won. It's always been about Mahomet. I walk down the street or I go to the gas station, and I know everybody. You have all these memories, and you can't replace those things."

Buchanan went to Florida Atlantic and became one of the best players to ever play at FAU. He was the first men's basketball player in FAU history to score 1,000 points. He led FAU in scoring as a sophomore, junior and senior.

"I got a chance to go to basically Miami and experience that for four or five years," Buchanan said. "I had a lot of fun being in a whole other part of the world. It was way more fun to come back though. I missed the people. I missed the small town. I missed the genuine real people here and that's what I missed. You can go anywhere in the world and you won't find real people that you have here."

Buchanan presented the game ball to Bulldogs senior Cory Noe when Noe became the seventh male player to score 1,000 points at M-S. From afar, Buchanan has been extremely impressed with Noe's crafty ability to score at will.

"I didn't watch Cory until his junior year, and I went to watch one of the Finke boys play at Champaign Central," Buchanan said. "I knew nothing about Cory. After the first half, I said, 'Who is this Noe kid? He's the best player on the floor.' I was really impressed with his energy and his non-stop moving. I came back to watch him play two or three games this year. I think Illinois Wesleyan is a really good fit for him. I think he'll get a lot of playing time there. He's got a really good work ethic, and he's constantly doing things to work on his game and that's how I was. I appreciate that because that's how I was."

From a distance, Buchanan has watched how former M-S head coach Chad Benedict revamped the Bulldogs basketball program into one of the most consistent in the area.

In fact, Buchanan wished Benedict would have been around when he was a youngster.

"I wish that it was like that when I was growing up," Buchanan said. "I wish we had that tradition already in place. Chad has done just a tremendous job. Coach Sallade did a great job, but we just didn't haveany tradition when he was coaching like we do now.

"Coach Benedict did a great job with really starting them young. They have a lot of camps and training because of Coach Benedict. He's done a great job of starting them young and developing the tradition. He will be missed. He can't be replaced. You can't replace somebody like that. It's almost impossible to do what Chad did. He poured his heart and soul into it. There was a huge time commitment that he put in that no one sees."

Basketball is part of Buchanan's DNA, but it's been nearly two decades since he played his last game at FAU.

Does he miss it?

"Nope, I don't miss it at all," Buchanan said. "That's probably because I spent a lifetime doing it and now I get to enjoy other things. I have more fun watching my daughters play in their sports than I ever had playing. It's so fun to watch them compete and see how they react because you knew how you'd react. I'm still doing sports, it's just volleyball. It's a different chapter."

Buchanan is a real estate agent for RE/MAX Realty Associates in Mahomet. He married his high school sweetheart, Casey. The couple has two daughters, Avery and Hunter.

Buchanan may go down as the most decorated player to ever play at M-S.

You'll just have to go to someone else to hear about his accomplishments. The Hall of Famer isn't fond of showing off.

"A lot of those awards that I got, I don't keep them," Buchanan said. "I have a couple hanging up at J.T. Walker's. I've given my Hall of Fame plaque to the high school so that they could have them. I'm glad the town of Mahomet is there. To me, that's bigger than just my name."

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