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Collins gives preview of what's to come - Dec 10, 2016

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John Collins
GREENSBORO - John Collins (208-F-97) is starting to figure it out. Yet he'll never do it quickly enough to satisfy himself, his coach and Wake Forest fans. It's typical.

That happens when you're covered by a sky-high ceiling and sky-high expectations. It can be maddening for everyone involved to see excellence while peering through a glass wall of pretty good. That's especially true for a postseason-starved fanbase that longs for another Tim Duncan or twists before looking at Purdue boxscores for fear that Isaac Haas -- the 7-2 center who decomitted when former Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik's seat began to sear - had a big game.

Still what can he do other than allow the process play out, that being to let the game come to his prodigious body rather than forcing it? Because make no mistake about it -- it's a long, frustrating process that he has no choice but to endure.

Consider what happened during the Deacons' 78-75 win over UNC Greensboro on Friday night at the Greensboro Coliseum.

During the 1,000th game played between ACC and Southern Conference teams, the 6-10 sophomore flashed glimpses of the player Wake Forest's staff raved about during his recruitment two years ago. Collins finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds en route to recording his fifth straight double-double game and seventh overall this season. For most of the night he was a rim-protecting, floor-running, post-possessing presence that made the Deacons' coaches seem like prophets.

Still - and there's always a 'still' when it comes to ubertalents such as Collins - he left so much on the court.

'It's tough trying to reach that potential as quickly as possible while learning and playing at the highest level possible,' Collins said. 'All of the coaches tell me to be patient, that my time is coming. And when I get to that point, we're going to see what I can really do.

'As of right now, it's still a process of getting there. It's going to take time - I'm not going to get it all over one night. But I'm trying my best to get to where I need to be.'

Being critical of Collins is a difficult thing, especially since he realizes he can't force his learning curve as effortlessly as he can slam a two-handed dunk. He's smart, affable and at the end of the day a special talent. Only injury and incident could keep him from having more than merely a productive career for the Deacons (8-2).

Yet while those 17 points against the Spartans (7-3) came on an efficient 5-of-6 shooting from the floor, he was merely 1 for 2 after halftime. Part of that was because UNCG focused on making life difficult for him down low, yet Collins was also culpable of not freeing himself or properly handling the basketball.

He finished with four turnovers and probably should've had more, in Wake Forest Coach Danny Manning's estimation, because the Deacons' guards trying to get the ball to an immobile target that wouldn't move his feet.

'If he continues to put up these numbers, and we hope he does, he's going to command more attention,' Manning said. 'He's going to have to find way to manufacture ways to put points on the board.'

Some of his 17 points came from making seven of 10 foul shots. That's a nice effort, still - there's that 'still' again.

Manning wants more production off the offensive glass, where Collins had a team-high rebounds, but came agonizingly close to so many more. And those 10 attempts at the free-throw line were also the most by a Wake Forest player on Friday night, but still Manning wants him to draw more fouls when he posts up even without the basketball.

Still -yes, 'still' - for much of the night against the Spartans, he was the best player in uniform for either team.

'He's a sophomore, he's a young pup,' Manning said. 'He's a good one, though. He's got a long way to go in his development, but he's taking steps.'   

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