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Kentucky trying to lure 'off the charts' shot-blocker away from Big 12 country

By Ben Roberts, Lexington Herald-Leader on

Published in Basketball

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Throughout the recruiting process for five-star power forward Daimion Collins, whenever a college coach has expressed interest, his Texas high school coach has asked why.

What is it that has attracted so many top-flight Division I programs to Collins? According to Atlanta (Texas) High head coach Jarrod Boston, the answer is usually the same.

"The first thing they talk about is: 'Defensively we think he can guard 1 through 5,'" Boston told the Herald-Leader of his conversations with Collins' college suitors.

"He is off the charts, defensively. He's every bit of 6-9, 6-10 and he's got the longest arms that you've ever seen in your life. And he is just superb at blocking shots. He has unreal timing, and he gets to some shots that sometimes I just shake my head and look at the assistant and say, 'How did he get that one?' "

Collins - pushing 6-foot-10 and 200 pounds, with a 7-3 wingspan - averaged 24.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 7.7 blocks per game in his junior season at Atlanta, located a few miles away from where the Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana state lines meet. A few days ago, Rivals.com bumped Collins up from No. 20 to No. 10 in its national rankings for the 2021 class. A few weeks before that, Kentucky's coaching staff extended a scholarship offer for next season.

With a game that's ready for the highest level of college basketball and plenty of upside beyond that, Collins has emerged as one of the hottest recruits in the country.

 

Boston has been there since the beginning of his basketball journey. He coached Collins' father - a Division I-caliber football player and basketball standout for Atlanta High in the mid-'90s - and taught his mother in high school, as well. He's coached their son since his seventh grade year.

Collins started for Atlanta as a freshman. He once blocked 10 shots in the fourth quarter alone as a sophomore. He emerged as a star recruit nationally last year, going from unranked by Rivals.com entering that summer to No. 96 overall entering his junior season to top-20 status by the end of the high school year. He's only gotten better since then, and he's considered to be one of the most athletic frontcourt players in the 2021 class.

"His explosive jumping ability is the thing about him," Boston said. "Usually you find those kids around 6-5, 6-6 that have that unbelievable vertical jump. But he's 6-10 and he has an explosive jumping ability. He can get up twice quicker than most people can get up once. That's kind of what sets him apart.

"And his explosiveness to the goal - he can leave from 10 feet out and still has no problem dunking the basketball. He's an unbelievable athlete."

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