Collins better get in shape

Friday, July 17, 2009

While Sherron Collins keeps one eye on the fast food-fatness chart to get his weight where it has to be, he might train the other ocular orbit on a Kansas basketball teammate with the wherewithal to take over Collins’ job if Sherron gets too fat and sassy.

Sophomore Tyshawn Taylor has proved he can handle the ball, score, make assists and steals and do everything, well, that a big-league point guard must. The 6-foot-3 Taylor had 18 points, six assists and five steals in sparking the American U-19 team to the world championship recently in New Zealand. In the 9-0 run by the United States, Tyshawn averaged 10.8 points, led the team with 35 assists and tied for a team high 14 steals. He missed one game due to flu trouble.

After a period of self-indulgence, Collins recently was 18 to 20 pounds too heavy for maximum efficiency. At 5-11, he performs best at 205-10. He needs to trim down for the kind of senior season that will make him the first-round NBA choice he hopes to be. Coach Bill Self shouldn’t pamper him any more. Last year, Bill anointed Sherron as the team leader and he tried to over-achieve. Hope he learned something.

If Sherron lags too far in his weight-watcher regimen, he could lose valuable scout-exposure sitting on the bench. Yet KU needs both guys to measure up to the soaring expectations for 2009-10.

With Collins and the departed Mario Chalmers last season, KU would have had probably the best pair of guards in the college ranks. Taylor was forced into Chalmers’ shoes as a freshman and though he displayed tremendous talent, he had too many yearling fits and starts.

The 2009-10 season, judging from Taylor’s performance in the U-19 battles, could see KU restored to the No. 1 guard tandem level. With Collins in peak shape and Taylor continuing his international achievement pace, about all Self will have to do to assure a run to the Final Four will be to find a solid No. 3 starter, be it the well-hyped Xavier Henry, a healed-up Mario Little or maybe a sleeper like Travis Releford.

Collins and Taylor will have backups like Tyrel Reed, newcomer Elijah Johnson and perhaps even Brady Morningstar. Up front, anchorman Cole Aldrich will hold sway with, hopefully, Marcus and Markieff Morris better-prepared, physically and mentally, to deliver consistently. There will be added muscle in 6-8, 230-pound rookie Thomas Robinson; 6-10 Jeff Withey debuts at mid-year.

As for the No. 3 spot, two of the best media developments of late is that the Michael Jackson overkill is fading and someone told ex-Jayhawk Carl Henry to stop yapping so much about sons Xavier and C.J. If they’re good enough, they’ll play and excel. Coach Self is a master at extricating the best for a TEAM effort. It will be a mistake if the Henrys come in thinking they are the saviors of the program. They’ve never been through a Bill Self boot camp, and he’s likely to give them some special dues to pay just to prove they are as good as daddy says. Competition will be lava-hot.

I can almost hear the holdover Jayhawks, who’ve been “boot-camped” and survived, snickering at the blast of reality Xavier and C.J. are going to get this fall. Truth is, Self and Co. can field a 10-man crew good enough to make the Final Four without either Henry.

Not that these two can’t add a lot, but they’re going to have to earn the playing time they get. Daddy can’t talk them into that.