‘An incredible human being, elite teammate.’ Northeastern basketball star transitions from court to the seminary

A man poses looking upward
Coleman Stucke, a starter on the men’s basketball team, will graduate in three yeas with a 3.8 grade point average in business administration. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Becoming a basketball star worthy of a Division 1 scholarship is a dream come true for millions of people. For Coleman Stucke, a 6-foot-7 Canadian, it wasn’t enough.

“I was sitting in a pretty dark spot, struggling with a lot of anxiety and was in a depressed state in a lot of ways,” he says.

His transformation while at Northeastern University has been amazing. Stucke will graduate this summer with a 3.8 grade-point average in business administration in just three years—while starting at forward for the basketball team. 

Married last summer, he’ll be passing up his senior year of basketball to enter the seminary.

“Christ found me in that low point and saved my life,” Stucke says of the year before he arrived at Northeastern. “That changed my life and gave me meaning, gave me purpose, hope and joy.”

The Colonial Athletic Association honored Stucke in March with the Dean Ehlers Award, given to a top men’s and women’s basketball player who “embodies the highest standards of leadership, integrity and sportsmanship in conjunction with his/her academic and athletic achievement.”

At Northeastern, Stucke was among nine graduating students who received inaugural Senior Leadership Awards for their service to the Northeastern community. 

His faith helped him become a better player and teammate, says Stucke, enabling him to realize purpose in mundane basketball drills.

“Even boring things, like shooting free throws for the millionth time—He gives that a newfound meaning,” Stucke says of his faith in Christ. “And then valuing the relationships and the people, that was transformative for me. Being able to treasure and invest in those relationships has been a super big blessing.”

Stucke scored a career-best 34 points in a game at Delaware in January. He started 54 games in his three years at Northeastern while emerging as the Huskies’ top 3-point shooter last season (making 52 at a rate of 38.2%). In a private meeting with the team for its final home game in February, coach Bill Coen grew emotional while speaking of Stucke.

“He was an absolute joy to coach,” Coen says. “He’s an incredible human being, an elite teammate, a guy that held himself accountable and would hold others accountable. He always gave his best. He’s just an outstanding person who has incredible compassion for other human beings and it comes through in everything he does.”

Most of the team attended and celebrated Stucke’s wedding last August in Boston.

“We look for examples in our everyday life who will inspire us and Coleman was always there for his teammates,” Coen says. “He has a great moral compass and that was evident to everybody that was around him.”

The feeling was mutual. Stucke says his enduring basketball memory is the Huskies’ victory in the 2021 CAA tournament—earned despite COVID-19 outbreaks—that made Coen the winningest coach of the century-old program at Northeastern. Months later, Stucke’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“The support that coach offered in reaching out to my family in that time showed a lot about his character,” says Stucke, who becomes emotional recalling Coen’s support. (He says his mother has recovered from the treatment and is doing well.) “That was really meaningful for my family, it goes a lot deeper than basketball, and I just don’t think every Division 1 basketball program is going to value people and relationships as much as coach does. 

“I think a lot of times [elsewhere] it’s a ‘what can you do for me today?’ mindset. But if you watched the way coach would treat our best player and the team managers, you wouldn’t be able to see a difference—and I think that’s really commendable.”

Stucke (pronounced stu-kah) was a high school and AAU star in suburban Toronto who realized that his success in basketball wasn’t a source of happiness. 

“My self-value was pegged to performance,” he says. “And then it goes up and down, up and down, up and down, and that was a pretty miserable way to live.”

Stucke has been a community mentor, a soup kitchen volunteer at St. Francis House and a peer tutor. He was a Northeastern team captain and a member of the university’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. And he has been supporting the efforts of his wife, Aimee, a recent Northeastern master’s graduate in global studies and international relations who works with an organization to help resettle and care for refugees arriving in the U.S.

Stucke considered returning to Northeastern for another year of basketball.

“It was just time,” he says. “Especially with me not having any aspirations to play professionally, there wasn’t a lot of need for me to play anymore. But it was something that I thought about, and it’s definitely bittersweet to move on.”

He plans to keep playing recreationally while studying to become a pastor over the next three to four years. Stucke believes his passion for basketball will help him as a mentor to young people. 

“I’ve noticed,” he says, “they listen to you a lot more once you show them that you can dunk.”

Ian Thomsen is a Northeastern Global News reporter. Email him at i.thomsen@northeastern.edu. Follow him on Twitter @IanatNU.