Thursday, January 18, 2007


Keegan: Collison coming on strong


Considering he has averaged a single-single throughout his NBA career, what in the world has gotten into Nick Collison of the Seattle SuperSonics lately?

Nothing much, other than he is being asked to do more, according to the man who knows him best, his father and former high school coach, Dave Collison of Iowa Falls, Iowa.

"The team had been struggling, so they decided to change the lineup," Dave said by phone. "They changed three starters and decided to try Nick at center."

The new lineup, featuring former Maryland star Chris Wilcox at power forward, has paid off for the Sonics, winners of two in a row.

In the past four games, Collison has averaged 22.3 points and 13.3 rebounds and is shooting .667 from the field, .778 from the line.

Dave and Judy Collison subscribe to the NBA League Pass and watch every game, recording those that conflict with the games of Nick's younger brother, Michael. A sophomore in high school who has sprouted to 6-foot-7, Michael plays for the junior varsity and varsity.

"Nick's been a terrific influence on Michael for a long time," the boys' father said. "It was tough for a while. Michael thought he'd be living in Nick's shadow. He's accepted he's not Nick. Everybody else knows he's not Nick, and he's getting better all the time."

So is Nick, now that guard Ray Allen needs help scoring while fellow perimeter threat Rashard Lewis is injured.

"Everybody else is looking for (Nick and Wilcox)," Dave Collison said. "Nick's getting the ball more on pick-and-rolls. In the past, they didn't look for him. He's playing with a lot of confidence, being more aggressive and staying out of foul trouble."

Collison is an interesting case study for college players convinced by hangers-on they are ready for the NBA. He twice played in the Final Four, was a consensus first-team All-American as a senior and finished his career as the all-time leading Big 12 scorer and rebounder. Dick Vitale took off his headset and gave him a standing ovation when he fouled out after a 24-point, 23-rebound performance against a loaded Texas team. Nobody on the current KU team can come close to bragging of similar achievements.

Collison's ability to run the floor so well for a big man made him a good NBA fit, yet it has taken until now, in his third season (not counting the first year, which he missed after surgeries to both shoulders) for him to blossom.

Rather than listen to potentially dangerous voices urging a jump, players should listen to an ex-coach and the father of an NBA player.

"I don't think kids understand how much fun and what an awesome experience it is to play four years of college basketball, particularly at a place like Kansas," Dave Collison said. "Nick says all the time that when you get to the NBA, it's not nearly as glamorous. After the game, you get on a plane and fly to the next city, get to bed at 3 or 4 in the morning, get up in the morning for a shoot-around, take a nap, go to the game and get back on a plane. It's a terrific way to make a living, and anybody who does is very, very fortunate, but it's not as enjoyable as playing basketball at Kansas. I hope the guys at Kansas appreciate what they've got. They really need to enjoy that and give it all they've got for a long time."


Kyle Crenshaw 13 years, 1 month ago

nice, lets hope the current ku players thinking about jumping into the nba take a look at this and realize once they leave college basketball, there is no going back.

jakejayhawk 13 years, 1 month ago

Wow, what a great perspective from someone who has the knowledge and experience to speak on the subject. Sounds like Coach should ask Dave Collison to come in and speak to the team. I'm not suggesting some heavy-handed diatribe about "Stay in school". Rather, it would be great for the players to see what a rare opportunity they have and to enjoy and appreciate every moment they get in that environment; whether it be one year or four.

jprich 13 years, 1 month ago

It's good to see the strides Collison has made in order to be a productive NBA player. I'll admit that I don't really care for the NBA, but it's neat to catch up on former players and how well they're doing. It still just rips my heart out, though, to think that as well as Hinrich and Collison are playing, they don't have that NCAA championship to call their own.

ku98 13 years, 1 month ago

If only Wayne Simien hadn't gotten hurt towards the end of that 2002-2003 season, we would have won the whole thing, and Nick and Kirk would have a ring. That was quite a tournament though, with tough wins against Duke and Arizona, and a spanking against Dwyane Wade's Marquette in the semis.
I still have nightmares about McNamara and all those 3-pointers Syracuse had in the first half... not to mention our 12 for 28 at the line. I loved that team though. Rock Chalk!

justinryman 13 years, 1 month ago

In your REAL opinions, has anybody showed this year that they are ready to play in the NBA next year? I think everybody needs at least one more year in college, including Rush and Arthur. But htat is my opiniion whats yours?

ku98 13 years, 1 month ago

My opinion is that everyone could use another year or two before jumping out, and I think they will stick around.

sampierron 13 years, 1 month ago

If Nick Collison were a better free throw shooter, we'd all have that championship. I love(d) watching the guy play, but...damn.

JayCeph 13 years, 1 month ago

Is his little brother looking at schools to play for once he graduates? Is he good enough to play at the college level? Is KU interested in him? Anyone know?

bmcmich1 13 years, 1 month ago

That's great to see Nick is doing well! I couldn't give two sh*ts about the NBA, but it is always good to see that former KU players are doing well--it's also great to see old man Collison singing the praises of staying at Kansas--it's a great four years, in fact so great it took me five!

Roysoldboy 13 years, 1 month ago

I have mentioned before that most of the present team seem to be having fun. I especially think that Rush is having too much fun to jump and don't think it is time for him to consider it, anyway. None of the others have any business even thinking about it but certainly they probably are. I am sure that all are having fun and everybody around them need to be pointing out to them that it is much more fun playing at KU than sitting on the pine in the NBA.

tdub 13 years, 1 month ago

Don't see little bro anywhere on the '09 recruiting lists. Maybe the skills are a little raw right now.

JayhawkPhil 13 years, 1 month ago

It's hypocrital to criticize a kid for going out early when it's him taking the risk. Granted, many kids have no business going pro because they are not good enough. They go because either a. They never really wanted to go to college in the first place, b. They are getting bad advice from cronies/family/friends or c. They hope they can get enough attention to get on with some foriegn team. If a kid is good enough to be a top 10 draft pick then he is taking a big chance of injury or losing his worth staying in school. Having said all that, none of our guys look ready for the Pro's.

kevbo 13 years, 1 month ago

Great player, great family, great article. Nice perspective on the NBA game. Good work Keeg.

cpjayhawk 13 years, 1 month ago

Great article about a great player from Kansas! Those were a great 4 years. I'll be moving to Chicago soon and I can't wait to watch Hinrich play up there! This is one article from the media that I hope the current team actually reads! Also, with Chalmers, he may want to go out early, maybe, I don't know, but if he did, I wonder what influence his dad (being one of the coaches) will have on him. Especially with him being a military guy. Rock Chalk!

ColfromCO 13 years, 1 month ago

Nick missed what - 16 free throws in that game? Carmello Anthony is a great player. But did he win the NCAA NC or was it given to him? And Carmello went pro after that and is a multi-millionaire. He was a sophomore when Syracuse won the NC. I doubt he ever missed his junior or senior years of college.

That said and done - yes, college looks like more memorable fun than the pros. And yes, once you go on you can never come back. Oh, you can come back and finish your degree. But you college team experience is gone. Is it worth giving up? I would doubt so. But, yea, I wonder what Carmello says about those last two he gave up. Anybody know?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.