Story by Hugh McGuire

BOSTON — If you have watched any Northeastern men’s basketball games, you may have noticed a familiar face on the bench. Bolden Brace, who starred on the Huskies from 2016 to 2020, is back on the team. 

This time though, instead of draining threes, he is helping the Huskies in another way: with a clipboard in his hand.

After a very successful year playing for the the Den Helder Suns of the BNXT League in the Netherlands, where he averaged an impressive 13 points per game on 49% shooting, while also corralling in 4.8 rebounds per game and logging 2.4 steals per game, Brace decided to return to Northeastern as a graduate manager. 

It is fitting that Brace returns to the program where his game truly blossomed. During his time as a Husky, he won the CAA Sixth Man of the Year in 2018, received a selection to the CAA All-Tournament team in 2020, and cemented himself in Northeastern history by holding the fourth position all-time in three-pointers made.

Not surprisingly, the stardom he saw as a player has made the transition into coaching significantly harder.

“It’s tough, man, sitting on the bench and not having much control,” Brace said. “ “I try to help in any way I can but the fact of the matter is I can’t go out on the court and do anything.”

One factor that has made the transition easier for Brace is head coach Bill Coen, who Huskies fans can credit for helping bring Brace back to Boston.

“Where do I begin?” Brace said, followed by an ear-to-ear smile that is surely familiar to anyone who has spoken to him. “I love him as a person, and I can’t thank him enough. I am grateful for him as a person and as a coach.”

Brace also attributed the camaraderie of the team as well as the overall culture of Northeastern as factors in his decision to come back. Brace is also a masters student, so coming back to campus has allowed him to finish up his degree while coaching. 

As the season winds down, it’s no secret that the Huskies have had an underwhelming year. Brace, however, still has his eyes set on the immediate goals that are in front of them. Looking ahead, Brace noted that the Huskies’ keys to success will come from improvements made in their ability to scout their opponent on defense, score the ball, and close out games.

Brace is still considering his options when it comes to how coaching will play a role in his life and at what level he is comfortable coaching. One idea he was particularly excited about was the prospect of coaching in underprivileged communities, giving back to kids who may have not had the same opportunities he did by teaching them his experiences.

Whether it be shipping up to Boston from Santa Barbara, California, finishing his final season in a pandemic, or starting his professional career in a foreign country, the path that Brace has traveled thus far has not been paved for him. From the minute Brace stepped foot in Boston, he needed to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

“Coming out to Boston was probably one of the most difficult things I’ve done. I had such a tight-knit group of friends and family in Santa Barbara, so it was really hard in 2016 coming out here,” Brace said. “But I knew right away that coach Coen was going to provide me with the mentorship and leadership that I needed to be successful.”

Although much uncertainty remains in this future, Brace’s outstanding ability to adapt to any situation, paired with the guidance of a lifelong mentor in Coen will without a doubt propel him to stardom. It is simply a matter of what stage he chooses to be a star in.