John Calipari explains how Daimion Collins has gotten his confidence back
This season has been a roller coaster of emotion for Kentucky forward Daimion Collins. From losing his father to open the year to being in and out of the Wildcat’s rotation, it’s been a difficult time for the 6-9, soft-spoken sophomore. Even so, with the way he has come in and impacted the last two games, John Calipari is prepared to give him more minutes.
Calipari applauded Collins to open his postgame press conference following UK’s 72-67 win over Florida on Saturday night. He said Collins has gotten his weight back up and is back within the competitive flow of their games. That has brought him to a point Calipari feels like he can now give him some extra run.
“He gained his weight back, which is the one thing he had to do. The other thing is he had to get back in that competitive spirit and he’s there,” Calipari said. “I need to play him more and need to play Oscar (Tshiebwe) less.”
Collins has appeared in just 14 games during this season for an average of 10.4 minutes per game. Before last week, he hadn’t appeared at all in Kentucky’s previous five games. However, Collins made an instant impact on the road at Ole Miss. He then did so again in the Wildcat’s win against the Gators.
In his five minutes off the bench, he finished with three points, a rebound, and a steal that led to an impressive dunk attempt in transition over Colin Castleton. His points came directly from the free throw line, including two in the final minute that pushed Kentucky’s lead back to six. When he checked out after the pair of makes, Calipari welcomed him with a deserved smile and a hug.
Building Collins’ confidence back up has been a season-long struggle. Now, as he continues to make short, impactful bursts, Calipari wants to feature him more in Kentucky’s rotation moving forward.