7’0” 230 LBS F
39 G | 17.3 MPG | 10.0 PPG | 65.2 FG% | 47.6 3FG% | 10 3FG | 74.3 FT% | 5.9 RPG | 1.8 BPG
• Is a back-up role substantial enough for a freshman to prove himself worthy of lottery pick consideration? In the case of Gonzaga’s Zach Collins, the answer appears to be an emphatic ‘yes.’ Despite not starting a single game for the Bulldogs, the Las Vegas native exhibited plenty of promise this season, showing there was a lot he could do for a player his size. Not only was Collins proficient in respect to many basic big man skills – i.e. finishing at the basket, protecting the rim, rebounding – he also displayed enticing range. In declaring for the draft, Collins became the first player in Gonzaga history to turn pro after just one season at the university.
• So why was that Collins, a prospect with upper-echelon potential, couldn’t crack the starting line-up of a club that made a run all the way to the championship round of this year’s NCAA Tournament? There’s a pretty massive explanation. The gigantic 7-foot-1, 300-pound Przemek Karnowski, winner of more Division I games than any player in college history, was entrenched at the Bulldogs’ center spot. Nonetheless, Collins, who – at times – was used alongside Karnowski, found ways to be impactful and efficient in limited action. He ranked fourth in the nation in true shooting percentage (70.3), generated 1.15 points per possession (putting him among the country’s elite), and produced quality numbers on a per-40 minute basis – 23.2 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 4.1 blocks. His 69 blocks this year were the most in the West Coast Conference.
While Collins might not have been part of Mark Few’s starting group, it was no surprise, given his abilities, that the rookie was on the floor during critical, late-game stretches, such as in Gonzaga’s Final Four pairing with South Carolina. Collins finished the night with 14 points, and career-highs of 13 rebounds and six blocks, helping the Bulldogs to a narrow victory.
• Digging a little bit deeper into the data surrounding Collins’ shooting, his touch was dependable, a small statistical sample size notwithstanding. The 7-footer knocked down 14 of 28 jump shots, according to Synergy Sports, and converted an encouraging 14 of 26 catch-and-shoot opportunities (more than half of which were contested). All of that said, Collins buttered his bread around the basket, where he converted just under 61.0 percent of his post-up attempts, which accounted for nearly 44.0 percent of his shots.
Did You Know?:
Collins, a second-team All-WCC selection last season, attended Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas. Minnesota Timberwolves swingman Shabazz Muhammad and former Philadelphia Eagle running back DeMarco Murray went there as well.
Quote of Note:
“This was a significant decision for my family and me. It was definitely one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make. This season was special and something I will never forget. It was the most fun year of my life. I want to thank all of the Zag fans for all of their support and passion. I’ll always be proud to be a Zag.” – Collins, gozags.com (4/11/2017)