John Collins blossomed into one of the best offensive players in the NCAA during his two years at Wake Forest, ending his sophomore season averaging 28.8 points and 14.8 rebounds per 40 minutes on a 67% true shooting percentage, ranking #1 in PER among all college basketball players. This helped Collins be recognized as the ACC's Most Improved Player, while being one of the key players who took Wake Forest back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010.
Listed at 6'10, Collins has a below average (relative to his height) 6'11 wingspan. His lack of length isn't ideal for a small-ball center from a defensive standpoint, the position he most frequently played in college, and scouts will be closely watching his measurements at the NBA Combine to see how he stacks up with other big men in this draft. It would help Collins to maximize his versatility on both ends of the floor in order to be able to play in a variety of lineup configurations like we're increasingly seeing in this new-age NBA style, including increasing his shooting range and becoming a better passer and defender. Nevertheless, it's hard to ignore the incredible productivity Collins put up as a very young, late-blooming sophomore, and there is undoubtedly plenty of potential to continue to harness long-term.
The majority of Collins' offense in college was derived from post-up opportunities, which made up 48.4% of his total possessions according to Synergy Sports Technology. He had some dominant stretches against collegiate defenders, scoring with an array of moves including impressive footwork with his back to the basket and an emerging face up game where he could knock down a mid-range jump shot smoothly or get to the rim off one or two dribbles. He will be tested in the pre-draft workout process with a variety of different defenders, and considering he had two of his worst games of the season against two of the ACC's biggest frontcourts in UNC and Florida State, where he shot a combined 4 for 11, scouts will want to see how effectively he's able to create offense against similar sized players with longer wingspans.
Collins will need to improve his court vision and decision making to be utilized as a full-time power forward in the NBA. He gets tunnel vision at times, as he tries to score through double teams rather than surveying the floor and seeing all his options, leading to difficult shots through two defenders. He ranked as the second worst passer among DX Top-100 prospects, evidenced by his paltry 4.5% assist percentage assists per 40 minutes and .28 assist to turnover ratio. Power forwards in today's NBA are asked to make quite a few decisions with the ball in their hands, be it attacking closeouts from the perimeter, finding the open man off short rolls, or in dribble hand-off situations, so improving his feel for distributing would go a long way in helping him carve out an effective niche.
As effective as Collins was operating inside the arc in college, NBA teams will want to see him become a little more versatile to successfully play alongside different type of big men. Adding a reliable jump shot to his arsenal would be a major leap in his skill-set, and there have been signs that this can become a part of Collins' repertoire. He has displayed a soft touch when he faces up out of post-ups and mid-range jumpers, and has made 73% of his free throws in his career. It's becoming more and more difficult to play two non-shooting big men in the same lineup, so if Collins he can extend his range, it'll undoubtedly help his ability to operate alongside traditional centers.
Collins' advanced scoring instincts will undoubtedly come in handy in all kinds of miscellaneous situations, be it as a cutter, pick and roll finisher, offensive rebounder, or rim-runner in transition. He is a high energy player who has excellent hands, even when at his top speed, and is quick off the ground to finish above the rim. This has helped him convert an outstanding 69.2% of his attempts around the basket according to Synergy Sports Technology. He finishes strong at the rim and doesn't shy away from contact, attempting ten free throws per 40 minutes, the second best rate in our Top-100.
Collins also led the DX Top-100 in offensive rebounds per 40 minutes at 5.6 per 40 minutes. While he lacks a degree of length, he can continue to have success in this role with his quickness, instincts and high motor, as he's a relentless worker on the glass who uses his agility to be first to the ball, and likes to play above the rim for put-back dunks and tip-ins. Even if he doesn't develop the versatile skill-level NBA teams are increasingly looking for out of their power forward starters, Collins' outstanding hands and touch help his cause as a complementary player who gets his points by way of his energy.
The biggest hurdles Collins will have to overcome in carving out an important niche at the NBA level will likely come on the defensive side of the ball, where he has some major strides to make with his feel and awareness. He looked hopelessly lost at times while struggling to read the floor, which led to him giving up bucket after bucket. He had a tough time moving in space to stay in front of dribble penetration or his man cutting to the rim and didn't always fight hard to get back into the play after he was beat, an issue that plagued Wake Forest's entire team last season.
He was in foul trouble throughout his two collegiate seasons, committing over four fouls per 40 minutes. This led him to be hesitant defensively to avoid staying out of foul trouble and in a smaller role, he will need to play with energy and no fear of fouling on each possession.
Despite his shortcomings defensively, Collins did show flashes of potential at times, most notably with his tenacity on the defensive glass. He was able to pull down 9.1 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes and was willing to fight for loose balls in traffic and track down missed shots outside his area. He also blocked 2.4 shots per 40 minutes, a solid mark for a player with his measurables. He showed good timing to get off the ground quickly and recognition of verticality when he was in front of his opponent to alter shots at the rim. It's unlikely he will become a dominant rim protector due to his reach, and he was often swiping at the ball or chasing blocks, but he can definitely grow into a player who makes it difficult for opponents around the rim thanks to his athleticism and natural instincts.
Scouts will be especially keyed in on his defense throughout the pre-draft process and Collins will have to work to shed the tweener label to improve his draft position. He moves well enough offensively that he should be able to do a better job of guarding the perimeter, but he will need to vastly improve his footwork and fundamentals to get to a point where he is omfortable guarding stretch forwards. That will likely be a necessary part of his skill-set and Collins will be looking to answer some of those questions leading up to the draft.
Collins is the second youngest sophomore in our top 100 (behind Isaac Humphries) and won't turn 20 until just before the start of next season, making him younger than many freshman even. While there are definitely areas Collins needs to improve upon, most notably his team defensive contributions, his motor and scoring instincts will make easy to envision a role for him at the NBA level. Collins could help himself in the draft process by showing better shooting range and defensive fundamentals than he got credit for in college, and it wouldn't be a shock to see him invited to the NBA Green Room with strong workouts. NBA teams will be hoping Collins still has considerable room to grow after his impressive skill improvement in his two seasons at Wake Forest, and considering his age and development trajectory, that seems like a good bet.