Chad Buchanan ’95 certainly knows how to spot basketball talent.
As director of college scouting for the Portland Trail Blazers, Buchanan was part of the team that scouted and selected Greg Oden, Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge.
It looked as if Portland was set for years of success.
But it’s one thing to assess basketball talent; it’s another thing to keep those talented players healthy.
Injuries kept Oden from playing; he was eventually waived. Roy suffered from a degenerative knee condition and retired. (He is attempting a comeback this season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.) Only Aldridge, the team captain, remains in Portland, but he also suffered injury problems early in his career.
“It kind of fell apart for us,” Buchanan says. “There’s definitely some luck involved.”
Buchanan’s career is a testament to hard work, not luck.
As a high school senior in West Des Moines, he choose Simpson because he knew some of the basketball players and because he wanted the chance to play both basketball and baseball. He did so all four years.
“The idea of being exposed to both baseball and getting a good education was very appealing to me,” he says.
Buchanan majored in business management and minored in sports administration. After graduating, he coached for nine years – two as a graduate assistant at the University of Iowa; five years as assistant men’s basketball coach and golf coach at Simpson; one year as an assistant coach for the Kansas City Knights in the ABA; and one year as an assistant at Drake University.
When Buchanan was approached about a scouting job for an NBA team, the opportunity proved irresistible.
“I jumped at it,” he says.
Buchanan has served several roles for the Trail Blazers, including working as acting general manager this past season.
“It’s incredibly challenging,” he says. “It’s fun, but there’s definitely a lot of pressure in professional sports. You’re evaluating personnel and trying to make the right decisions, because they’re very expensive decisions you’re making for your organization – and if you’re wrong on one or two, that can add up.”
The upside? “I get to travel the world and meet a lot of people around basketball and see different sides of the sports world.”
Buchanan and his wife, Melanie Richardson Buchanan ’98, raise their two children in Portland. He says his Simpson background has proved invaluable.
“I think the one thing Simpson helped prepared me for is that you can’t sit in a classroom and hide,” he says. “You have to interact with people and learn how to deal with different personalities. You have to be able to communicate and express yourself, which is critical for my job, dealing with coaches, agents, players and other executives.
“You can’t just be a number at Simpson like you can at a big school. You have to become somebody when you to go to a smaller school, and that’s really helped me with my job every day.”