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Photo: Brandon Jenkins, 247Sports[/caption]
Five-star forward Daimion Collins is one of the most tenacious defenders and pure athletes in the class of 2021, regularly putting up monster numbers on a nightly basis throughout his junior campaign in 2019-20, followed by similar production at various events this summer. Following a 30-win season last year, expectations are high at Atlanta High School, and Collins is seen as the anchor of that success going into his senior season.
Considered the No. 10 overall prospect and No. 5 power forward in the class of 2021, it's no surprise that Collins has emerged as one Kentucky's top recruiting targets in recent months. Recently cutting his list down to five schools, the Wildcats will now have to fight off Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech and Kansas for his services, with a decision expected in the early signing period.
But what will the program of his choosing be getting from the 6'10'' prospect exactly? Just how good is Collins now, and how good can be at the college level and beyond?
"His game, the best thing I can say about him is that he's explosive," Atlanta coach Jarrod Boston said in an interview with KSR. "He just, he does some things that'll have you shaking your head saying, "How did he do that?"
It's amazing watching his growth, really from the last two or three years, it's amazing how good he's gotten."
And he's only going to get better, with Boston noting that his game is in the "baby stages" at this point in time. Despite averaging 24.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 7.7 blocks per game as a junior, those numbers are (somehow) expected to improve even more as a senior.
"What's strange is, usually when you get the really tall kids - he's about 6'10'' - they don't have the explosive jumping ability," Collins' head coach told KSR. "He's got like a 40- or 45-inch vertical, I think. He's just so athletic and so explosive. I'd also say his game is in the baby stages, I think that's why people are so excited about him. You see so much potential for growth, it's unbelievable."
It's a ceiling that is "out of this world," with the five-star prospect not even scratching the surface of what he can be.
"His ceiling is so high, and that's what really attracts colleges. A lot of these guys you watch, you see them on highlights, you can tell they put a lot of time in their games, they're muscled up, but their ceilings aren't as high or they're at their ceiling. His ceiling is just out of this world, it's unreal. He hasn't even come close, to me, touching what he can be. That's the biggest thing.
Defensively, Boston says his star forward can develop into a player similar to former Kentucky superstar Anthony Davis, adding that he wouldn't be shocked if Collins averaged over ten blocks per contest this season.
"He could probably average 30 points a game this year, to be honest with you, and maybe 15 rebounds," Boston said. "He came close to [averaging] a triple-double [last year], with the third being blocks. He could easily average ten blocks a game. ... A couple years ago, a guy asked me, "Hey coach, did you do stats today?" I said, "No, I really didn't." He said, "Did you know Collins blocked ten shots in the fourth quarter against us?"
"He has the ability for us to just change the game. That's what I'm telling people, I'm gonna have to actually start coaching defense next year. We just push everything to the middle and he just blocks shots."
So how do you guard a player of his caliber? Boston says if he ever had to coach against Collins, he would simply pray the night before and hope for the best. That's about all you can do.
"The night before, before I go to bed, I'm gonna pray really hard. Around here, there is nobody that can really slow him down
," Boston told KSR. "People that have given us trouble - it's going to be harder this year because we're going to be more experienced - one person has held him, and then when he gets the ball, they send two, three, sometimes even four guys running at him, trying to make him give it up. He's making a lot better decisions this year, so that'll help us in the long run. I would just try to send people at him and make him take outside shots, hope he misses. That's really the only thing."
If there are three things you can guarantee he will bring to the table at the next level, it's blocked shots, dunks, and alley-oop finishes, his greatest traits.
But you're also getting a versatile NBA prospect with true stretch four potential.
"Basketball-wise, a whole
lot of blocked shots, a whole
lot of dunks, and a whole
lot of alley-oops," Boston said. "I say this to people who have asked me, he is that prototypical NBA stretch four they talk about. He comes out for screens, rolls, screens, pops out to the three-point line. His range has extended out a few feet past the three-point line now. You're getting a future potential NBA prospect, that's what you're getting. He's a really exciting player to watch.
"My dad was a basketball coach, and he told me, "Everybody ought to be able to coach a really, really good player sometime in their lives." I'm getting to do that right now."