Collins stars for Gonzaga in what could be only NCAA run
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Zach Collins scores, rebounds, blocks shots and makes predictions. He’s pretty good at all of those things.
The freshman 7-footer from Gonzaga had quite a night in the Bulldogs’ 77-73 victory over South Carolina on Saturday in the Final Four. He had 14 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high six blocks.
The prediction? He made that to his roommate, Nigel Williams-Goss.
“He told me before the game, he said, ‘Look, I wouldn’t want to be playing against me today,’” Williams-Goss said.
Collins admitted it.
“I really did say that. And Nigel said the same thing back to me,” he said. “But I don’t know, I just felt like we did our homework. And the scout was really good. And we’ve been guarding them, their plays really well all week. And we were all really confident whether they went zone or they went man.
“And I knew I had a couple of rough games before this. And I wanted to come out and just play a lot better for my team. In my head, I just said, I had no choice. And that’s when I told Nigel I just felt really good.”
Collins averaged 7.8 points and 5.3 rebounds in 17.8 minutes in the four wins leading to the Zags’ first Final Four.
Collins is considered an above-average athlete for his size, but whispers have been around all season that this might be his only year at Gonzaga.
Some NBA draft analysts suggest he could be taken in the first round.
If he does go pro, his college career will end with the national championship game against North Carolina on Monday night.
Collins, who is from Las Vegas, is a good shooter and he made a huge one on Saturday.
The Gamecocks had erased a 14-point deficit and took a 67-65 lead with 7:06 to play.
Collins then hit a 3-pointer — his 10th of the season in 21 attempts — to start a 7-0 run.
“I don’t think it was designated or anything,” he said. “But I knew they were heating up Nigel. And I just wanted to come in and hit a shot. Right when I flashed up to the high post, I knew I was going to shoot it. I think Przem (Karnowski) was open on the low post. I probably should have passed it, but luckily it went in.”
Karnowski, a senior, has been the starter all season. Collins’ fellow 7-footer had 13 points and five rebounds against South Carolina.
“His work ethic is awesome,” Karnowski said. “He’s been playing well for us the entire season. Whenever I go to the bench, he gets in and, basically, our team doesn’t drop a bit. So he’s been huge for us. And not only this game but the entire season. And with six blocks, you know, my career high is seven, but six is still good.”