Collins shouldn’t get too comfortable with the idea of playing in Sacramento, though. ESPN.com’s Chris Haynes reported the Portland Trail Blazers will receive the 10th overall pick in return for the Nos. 15 and 20 selections.
According to CSN Northwest’s Jason Quick, Portland showed an early interest in Collins:
Fellow Gonzaga alumnus Kelly Olynyk congratulated the 7-footer:
Here’s how others reacted to the pick:
Collins averaged 10.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game as a freshman, coming off the bench for a Gonzaga team that narrowly missed out on a national championship. The big man emerged as a vital force in the Final Four, putting up 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks against South Carolina before a nine-point, seven-rebound, three-block outing against North Carolina.
ESPN’s Chad Ford ranked Collins as the No. 9 overall prospect in this class. He was seen as a late lottery pick who would, in the worst-case scenario, be off the board in the vicinity of pick No. 20.
“He’s listed anywhere from eight to 20 (in the first round in mock drafts) and almost nobody else in America stays when that’s the case,” Mike Collins, Zach’s father, told Jim Meehan of the Spokesman-Review. “You go when the league wants you to go. He’s following his dream and his wishes.”
Collins is skilled for his size, but he’s definitely more of a developmental prospect than a ready-made star at this juncture. He was mostly a role player (albeit a really good one) during his lone season at Gonzaga, and he’s going to face a massive competition uptick in the NBA.
“Obviously I’ve got to get stronger but I think there’s a lot of guys in the draft that need to get stronger before they start playing,” Collins said, per Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. “But I think going against Przemek Karnowski and a lot of the bigs we had at Gonzaga everyday in practice, some of the guys were stronger than me at the time, but I learned certain ways to use my length.
“Just try to find ways to outsmart the offensive player a little bit even if they tried to overpower me. I think I can take some of that I learned at Gonzaga, tactics I used. I think I’ll do well, especially when I add strength.”
The Blazers can use Collins next to Jusuf Nurkic as a long-term fit in their frontcourt. Collins could stretch the floor while Nurkic acts as a big bruiser, or they simply could wind up splitting center minutes. Meanwhile, the similarly skilled Meyers Leonard may be the odd man out in the frontcourt rotation and put on the block.
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