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Zach Collins on Rookie Year Challenges, Growing Confidence

W.G. Ramirez of the Spokesman-Review caught up with Collins to discuss his rookie season and what lies ahead.

NBA: Summer League- Atlanta Hawks at Portland Trail Blazers Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

For the second year, Trail Blazers big man Zach Collins is playing at the NBA Summer League in front of his hometown crowd, trying to earn the confidence of the Blazers’ coaching staff. W.G. Ramirez of the Spokesman-Review caught up with the former Bishop Gorman standout in Vegas.

At Gonzaga, Collins averaged 10 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 17 minutes per game during his one college season. In his first year with the Trail Blazers, he only averaged 4.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game in 15.8 minutes. Collins did not play in 15 of the first 22 games of his NBA career, a situation that he had not encountered in his high school or college years:

“I’ve never dealt with DNPs before, so that was a little tough,” he said. “But I knew if I kept doing what I’ve done my entire life – which is stay in the gym and work hard and prove that I belong – that I was going to be fine eventually, so that’s just what I continued to do.

“It’s not that awesome of a story, I just kept my head down and kept working and eventually I got a shot.”

Teammate Caleb Swanigan and coach Terry Stotts both saw Collins’ commitment to working hard, keeping his spirits up and learning how to contribute to the team’s success.

Swanigan praised Collins’ attitude:

“He’s always had a good attitude, even when things weren’t going his way during the season,” Swanigan said. “And that’s something that’s big, that I’ve even learned from him. He always keeps his head up and that’s a good thing to have.”

Stotts commended Collins’ work ethic

Stotts said the biggest benefit to him was Collins arrived a coachable player who still wants to learn. It showed in his work ethic at practice, while he always acknowledged he had a lot of growing to do – both from a basketball standpoint and a physical standpoint.

“He struggled in summer league (last year), no question. It’s a tough transition,” Stotts said. “He always worked hard. Part of it was opportunity. The biggest thing was he never was too anxious for his opportunity to come, but when it did come, he was ready and really competed.

Collins is averaging 7.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game in Summer League. You can read the entire piece here.