CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Zach Collins could have been the go-to guy for a lot of high schools last season, but at Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), he had to be wait his turn behind two McDonald’s All American 7-footers in Chase Jeter and Stephen Zimmerman.
Collins, the first player in the 2016 class to commit to Gonzaga, has been solid at the NBA Top 100 Camp, showing a well-rounded game that stresses the willingness to scrap for rebounds and a capable outside shot. The 6-11 forward came off the bench last season with the Gaels, averaging nine points and seven rebounds a game, but in AAU play last summer, he averaged 18 points and 15 rebounds. He is listed as the No. 37 player in his class, according to Rivals.com.
“Going up against Chase and Zim every day helped me get to where I am now,” Collins said. “My sophomore year, I kind of struggled against them in practice. I was a little boy. My junior year, I came into my own a bit and started to get them a little better, too. It helped us all out. It was tough taking a back seat to them the whole season, but it was for the team. I took the practices as serious as the games.”
Collins, whose father Mike is an assistant coach at Bishop Gorman, wasn’t sure he wanted to remain on the bench and had some thoughts of transferring, but instead helped the team win its fourth consecutive state title.
“It was a panic moment, but at the end of the day, it’s the best high school in the state and I would be dumb to go anywhere else just because I had to take a beat seat to someone for a couple of years,” Collins said. “I felt like I made the right decision to stay and I’m blessed to still be there. At the beginning of the season, our coaches and everyone else was trying to figure out how to play with three bigs. We just kept figuring it out and toward the end, it was just a blast. Playing with those two guys, I’m going to miss it because they were leaders to me and taught me a lot.”
With Zimmerman at UNLV this fall and Jeter at Duke, Collins will likely have a bigger role next season with the Gaels. Bishop Gorman also returns a backcourt with two sons of NBA players in junior Charles O’Bannon, son of the Ed O’Bannon (another Gorman assistant) and senior Jordan Payton, son of Gary Payton.
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