Tyshawn Taylor teams with Collins and freshman Xavier Henry to form the nation's best backcourt.
This article appears in the November 23, 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated
The recruiting classes of 2006 and '07 brought forth a bumper crop of point guards: Nine -- Ty Lawson, Javaris Crittenton, Mike Conley Jr., D.J. Augustin, Stephen Curry, O.J. Mayo, Derrick Rose, Jonny Flynn and Jeff Teague -- became first-round NBA draft picks. Only two of Scout.com's five-star points from those years haven't matriculated from college to the NBA: Florida's Nick Calathes, because he opted to play in Greece this year, and Kansas's Sherron Collins, because he's still in college. "I look at those class lists all the time," says Collins, who was the second-rated floor general in the '06 cohort, "and I know I'm the only one left."
Does that mean Collins should be an object of sympathy -- or envy? After all, staying in school has allowed him to be the elder statesman of the country's best backcourt, and to be acknowledged as the leader of SI's pick to win the NCAA title. But Collins would be neither had he not had a bad break. "If his health had been better," Jayhawks coach Bill Self says, "he wouldn't have gotten to his third year."
Collins began his sophomore year as a starter and the player Self expected to lead the team in scoring. But in mid-November, Collins suffered a stress fracture in his left foot. He was out for four weeks; the team would win the title with Collins as a sixth man. Last season Collins was the Jayhawks' leading scorer, pumping in 18.9 points per game, but passed on the draft because he wasn't sure he'd be a first-round pick.
Now Collins, an unflappable leader and a master at creating his own shot, has the opportunity to win a second national title. While new backcourt stars have hit the scene, Collins feels his maturity gives him an edge. "Those young guys haven't felt any real pressure yet," he says. "They haven't been on the road, down four, needing a stop with a minute left. I've been there. I know how to handle it." And unlike his NBA buddies, he'll also know a senior night.
-- Luke Winn
Issue date: November 23, 2009