It's that time of the year when some under-the-radar high school players receive high-major offers, causing some fans to wonder 'Who is he?' John Collins of Cardinal Newman in West Palm Beach, Fla., is one such player.
The junior helped his team get to the Florida Class 4A regional quarterfinals by leading his team in points, rebounds and blocks, averaging 18 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks per game.
"We had a breakout season and kind of put Cardinal Newman back on the map," Collins said. "We went 22-4 and we won our district for the first time in 10years. Unfortunately we're losing six seniors who all played at least two years of varsity, so we'll have a lot of new players next season."
One reason Cardinal Newman was successful was because of improvements Collins made in his game.
"Over the summer I got taller and stronger and gained experience with my travel team," Collins said. "I just did whatever my team needed for us to win games. If it was score, I did that; if it was rebounding, I did that."
At the end of his high school season Collins was up to 6-feett-9 and 223 pounds, and he held offers from San Francisco and East Carolina. But once his Florida Flash AAU coach sent out a video to college coaches and word got around about his skill set, basketball IQ and added strength, he picked up additional offers, including Maryland, Kansas State and Miami just last week. Prior to his recent offers, Collins was also hearing from TCU, Texas, Florida International, Memphis, Tennessee and Wake Forest.
"It's been an ongoing process and a long time coming," said Collins. "I had a big outburst of interest after my high school season ended. When my travel team coach sent out a video of me to coaches a lot of interest kind of sprouted from there. Several said they want to come down and watch me work out after seeing the video."
Recently Maryland's head coach Mark Turgeon did just that.
"He came down last Friday after seeing the video and hearing about me from one of his assistants (Orlando Ranson). Then the head coach came down, watched me and offered me. West Virginia called one of my coaches and asked about me, and Syracuse is showing interest; (assistant) coach Adrian Autry is coming down April 11."
Collins is very grounded and is trying not to let the recruiting process weigh too heavily on him.
"It can get overwhelming at times," he said. "My coaches have told me not to think about it too much, but don't ignore it. I'm taking it in stride. It's a fun time but I've got to keep moving. When colleges talk to me I definitely listen and let them recruit me but I've got to take it in stride and not let it affect my schoolwork or my game preparation."
For now, Collins is focused on the upcoming AAU season and on getting better. Some of that involves working on his defensive skills.
"We're playing in a tournament this weekend in Georgia. I'm preparing to play to the best of my abilities and get better so we can max out our full potential as a team and win some tournaments. I want to improve on my strength, quickness, athleticism and perimeter ball defense so I can better defend stretch four guys."
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