Growing up, David Collins always looked up to his family for influence. His mother, Dorothy Collins, is the all-time leading scorer for both men and women’s basketball programs at Youngstown State University. His sister, Doriyon, also played basketball through college.
He was inspired by his family.
“My sister was pretty good and so was my mom,” Collins said. “I just always aspired to be a good basketball player like them.”
Collins was named to the AAC All-Rookie team last season after he averaged 10 points per game, shot nearly 50 percent from the field and had a 41.7 percent three-point average. The only players who scored more than him were graduate transfers Stephan Jiggetts (12.5) and Payton Banks (11.4). They’ve both used up their NCAA eligibility and aren’t playing for USF anymore.
Collins recognizes that he will have to step up this season. Some players might see themselves in this position and try to emulate some big-name basketball players. Instead of looking up to Lebron James, Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant, Collins said he was impacted by players he knows personally.
“In high school, I had a friend named Mark Hughes, he was the first person I saw with a similar story to me. People didn’t think much of him,” Collins said. “He ended up playing at a division one school. After that, I felt like I could do it for sure.”
Collins said he and Hughes practiced together every day and that his teammate was another inspiration in his basketball career.
Hughes plays for Wright State, which was a No. 14 seed in the NCAA Tournament last season. He scored 340 points last season — Collins scored 269.
After playing basketball at Youngstown Ursuline High School for three years, Collins transferred to First Love Christian Academy in Washington, Penn. for his senior season where he met yet another teammate who inspired him — Prince Oduro.
According to Collins’ high school coach at First Love, Khayree Wilson, the pair would push each other to be better.
“They thrived off each other,” Wilson said. “They held each other accountable to a high standard, which I think trickled down to the rest of the team. That team was very special that year, we went 24-3. We were a great team all around, it wasn’t just about basketball.”
Oduro plays for Siena College in New York and scored 283 points his freshman season.
After his final high school season, Collins found himself thriving in a different environment at USF with another group of players who helped make him better.
“We had a lot of older guys last year, so I was just trying to learn. I wanted to get what I could get from them,” Collins said. “I was trying to find my way and find a place that I fit in at. I think that helped, because we had [Jiggetts] and he was a good guy who is very smart. [Banks] as well as some other players helped, too.”
It’s likely that Collins will find someone on his team this season who will help him thrive, just like he has since he was in high school. He might even find players on the team to emulate like he did his mother and sister in eighth grade. It’s also possible that, for the first time, Collins becomes the leader at USF that other players can learn from.
“We are really young, so some people are going to have to take up the leadership roles and help the young guys,” Collins said. “It’s not like we are too much older than them. We are all still learning, but we are taking it step-by-step.”
Collins’ and USF’s goal for this season is to change the culture for USF basketball and to lead by example. Collins wants to play a part in improving the program.
“We want to change the culture here and bring the culture up, we have to lead by example. We can’t be one foot in and one foot out if we really want to make a change,” Collins said. “I always try to win, the competitive nature of the game fuels me.”