In the end, it simply was a matter of comfort for Dom Collier.
A process that began when the Colorado men's basketball team's season ended at the Pac-12 Conference tournament in early March finally culminated for Collier this week, as the former Buffaloes guard signed his first pro contract with FC Schalke 04 of the German Pro A League.
Collier said his decision came down to FC Schalke and a club in the United Kingdom. The encouragement and kinship he discovered during conversations with FC Schalke coach Raphael Wilder tipped the scales.
Collier began negotiations with European clubs in late June and will depart for his first pro season in Germany on July 30. The fact FC Schalke 04 is a franchise on the rise, moving up from the Pro B League this season, also was an attraction for Collier.
"I was talking with coach Wilder from the Germany team the most, and then I just felt most comfortable with him," Collier said. "What made me more comfortable with him also was he won coach of the year last year in the division and they're moving up to Pro A this year. That really is a great opportunity ahead of me. Me and my family and my agent just felt like it was the right decision."
While Collier likely dreamed of NBA stardom when he won a state title at Denver East as a high school senior, the list of CU basketball alums who have made lucrative and rewarding careers out of playing overseas is a lengthy one. Collier said he enlisted advice from former CU stars like Carlon Brown and former teammate Josh Scott about the challenges inherent to playing professionally overseas.
"I'm going to try and pick up on some basic German, but from what I've heard from everybody is they speak English, and the coach speaks English too," Collier said. "But other than that, it's just preparation for basketball. To be able to play basketball, something I love to do, and see the world...I've been in Colorado pretty much my whole life. To be able to see the world and live in a different country will be really fun. I'm looking forward to doing that."
Collier finished his up-and-down CU career tied for 11th in program history in made 3-pointers (126) and 22nd in career assists (221). Though a minimum of 100 3-point attempts is necessary to be ranked among the Buffs' all-time single-season leaders, Collier's mark of .444 (40-for-90) as a sophomore in 2015-16 came close to ranking fourth all-time.
That season culminated in Collier's only appearance in the NCAA Tournament, which ended with a 74-67 first-round loss against UConn. Two fouls in the game's first four minutes — a situation that plagued Collier far too frequently during his 121 games in a Buffaloes uniform — limited Collier's effectiveness that day, though he still finished 3-for-6 with eight points, three assists, and only one turnover in 19 minutes before fouling out.
Getting an opportunity to compete on that stage remains the highlight of Collier's collegiate career.
"Making the tournament, that was a big moment my sophomore year," Collier said. "That was a really fun experience. I know we fell short to UConn, but the overall experience of making that was fun. I know we only went once, but it's still something a lot of people have never done."