Scouting Report by Josh Riddell. Video Analysis by Mike Schmitz
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.
Julian Applebome takes a closer look at John Collins's 17 point, 6 rebound, and 3 block performance vs defending NCAA champions Villanova on November 18th in the semi-finals of the Gildan Charleston Classic.
After showing impressive sparks of potential as a freshman, the 19 year old sophomore out of West Palm Beach, Florida has really come on strong in his second season under Head Coach Danny Manning.
Collins leads the ACC in points per 40 at 27.39 and also has the top PER in the conference at 33.9. He is rebounding the ball at an extremely high level (14.5 rebounds per 40) and has shown promise as a rim protector, blocking 2.5 shots per-40 minutes.
Collins still has plenty of work to do in terms of refining his offensive game (particularly his passing ability) and becoming a more consistent presence on the defensive end, where he is incredibly foul prone, but his physical tools and strong play in one of the countries toughest conferences has his name being discussed as a potential first round pick. The fact that he is younger than many of the freshmen in our mock draft, having only turned 19 in September, will certainly help his cause.
Julian Applebome is a video analyst for DraftExpress. Follow him on twitter and check out the DraftExpress Video section. He will be breaking down the NBA draft in digital format all year long for us.
John Collins was not the most heavily recruited big man coming out of Florida, ranked 134th by RSCI, before signing with Wake Forest. He had a productive freshman season in limited minutes, averaging 20.4 points and 11.3 rebounds per 40 minutes on 55% from the field while playing just over 14 minutes per game.
Listed at 6'10, 225 pounds with a long wingspan, Collins played primarily the center position as a freshman. He does have the mobility and quickness to play a power forward role going forward if he can expand his offensive skill set and be able to contribute outside the restricted area. He has an excellent frame that he'll need to continue to add muscle to in order to compete against NBA big men, but he's a very fluid athlete and was extremely active in his limited minutes, showing off a high motor and always looking to make a play on both sides of the court.
The biggest area that Collins needs to improve upon as a sophomore is his ability to stay on the court. Committing over seven fouls per 40 minutes, Collins had trouble controlling his energy and struggled with his defensive fundamentals, which limited his minutes and his ability to contribute. He needs to adjust to the speed of the game and become more disciplined so he can play a larger role in a frontcourt that lost a ton of production with Devin Thomas graduating.
Offensively, Collins looks to dunk everything inside the paint and has a high level of explosiveness and a quick second jump to be able to play above the rim. He finished 56% of his attempts around the rim last season according to Synergy Sports Technology and is a useful complementary scorer with his ability to finish off of offensive rebounds (4.7 offensive rebounds per 40), cuts and rolls out of ball screens.
He has good hands and an ability to get to the line, which only helps to improve his offensive efficiency. He attempted a very high 8.4 free throw attempts per 40 minutes last season, but does need to get better at finishing through contact which should hopefully come as his frame matures. He also converted only 69% of his attempts, and will need to improve his shooting form to capitalize on his ability to draw fouls.
Although he took just a handful of jump shots last year, his mechanics looked passable which does give him a nice foundation moving forward. He will need to get more comfortable playing on the perimeter as his range ended at the free throw line as a freshman. Improving his shot mechanics would give him the ability to score outside the paint in the flow of play while also increasing his prowess from the free throw line, raising his ceiling as a prospect.
Collins did use a high percentage of his offensive possessions with his back to the basket and showed some flashes of skill that he can build on to help him score in the post. He will need to improve his lower body strength to hold position on the block, but has displayed some impressive skills for a freshman. He likes to face up and attack his defender off one dribble, or look to shoot a short jumper, but has also shown some strong footwork with his back to the basket. He will be able to get separation from his defender, but he's often out of control or not in a good position to finish his shot after his post move. He also gets tunnel vision around the basket, and recorded a paltry seven assists in 446 minutes on the season, posting an awful 3.5% assist percentage.
Defensively, the game was clearly moving a little too fast for Collins, which contributed to his high foul rate. He played with a high level of energy, but was often a beat slow to react to the play around him, which left him vulnerable to cheap fouls. He's a confident defender who likes to switch everything, but he struggles to move his feet against quicker guards and doesn't get into a good stance to help his cause.
Collins pulled down 6.6 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes and he uses his body well to box out before exploding to meet the ball coming off the rim. He could become improve in this area if he adds strength to hold off his opponent on the glass, as he can get pushed under the rim even when holding a box out. He also contributed 2.1 blocks per 40 minutes and flies around the paint looking to block every shot. While this does help him protect the rim, he will have to pick his spots better to stay out of foul trouble. Learning to play under control while maintaining his motor defensively will be key for Collins as a sophomore to make him more effective as a defender and to keep him on the court and out of foul trouble.
One of the youngest players in the country last season after just recently turning 19 in September, Collins has a huge amount of room for growth as a sophomore and beyond. Being able to stay out of foul trouble will be his biggest area of improvement to allow him to stay on the court and impress NBA scouts as his career progresses. With his size and athletic ability, he'll certainly be a player to watch to see how his skills develop over the next few seasons.