Bishop Gorman’s Zach Collins is known as a big man who excels at passing the ball. That skill only figures to get further developed when he begins his career at Gonzaga.
But a guy who can pass – and is willing to – in an All American Game is someone who could become very popular.
“I will not stray away from my game and that’s to make winning plays,” Collins after he was honored Thursday at the McDonald’s All American Game Hometown Heroes presented by American Family Insurance. “But this is a once in a lifetime opportunity so I want to be as aggressive as I can to make my mark.”
The 6-10 Collins already has made a substantial mark as the No. 1 player in the state of Nevada, the No. 5 player in the nation and the No. 37 player overall, according to ESPN.com.
He said the enormity of Thursday’s ceremony at the school surprised him – and he figures to get some ribbing for the impromptu speech he was asked to give — but the magnitude of the selection is still sinking in.
“It’s the biggest honor you can get as a high school player,” he said. “I don’t think it’s hit me yet that I’m in the club with Michael Jordan, LeBron, Kevin Durant, Carmelo. It’s crazy to think about that and how their careers shaped out after playing in this event.
“It’s an incredible honor and one I won’t take for granted. I want to represent my state well in Chicago in March.”
The McDonald’s game is at the United Center on March 30.
Collins follows two Gorman players selected to the McDonald’s game a year ago – Chase Jeter, now at Duke, and Stephen Zimmerman, now at UNLV.
“When they got back, they were saying how fun and competitive it was,” Collins said. “I’m going to try to contact them and ask what to expect. I want to get as much info as I can, but I don’t want them to spoil the surprises for me.”
Collins is known as a player who protects the rim but also one who can move the ball. That’s why he is looking forward to going to Gonzaga a school that he said, “use bigs more than anybody in country. That’s a big draw to it. I’m looking forward to making the transition.”
He credits his dad with his love for making the great pass.
“When I was young from when I first picked up a ball in rec league, my dad was always harping on team play, team play, team play. That continues to this day,” Collins said. “He always says you to make those around your better. That’s how you’re going to win.
“When you’re little, you hear things but don’t know if they’re true. Then you start doing it and figure out that this is a winning formula. The biggest thing is wining. Passing gets you wins. That’s something I take into every game. I like seeing my teammates have success.
“I don’t smile a lot during games, but if my teammates have a big night, I love seeing that.”