At a time of year when most high school seniors have decided what their next step will be, Corban Collins found himself in flux a few weeks ago.
The High Point, N.C., native had just finished his senior year at Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Va., and the original plan was to stick around for a postgraduate year to mature as a person and as a basketball player.
Except that during his senior with the Colonels, something happened. Collins grew physically and emotionally and looked an awful lot like a college player.
"I just felt like going through this past season, I was ready for the next level," the 6-foot-3, 190 point guard said. "I didn't know what kind of chance I was going to have, but then recruit really picked up tremendously and I realized I was ready for that next step."
So a few weeks ago, Collins sat down with MMA coach Chad Myers and they went through the reclassification process. It was no problem academically because Collins graduated with a 3.8 grade-point average.
The challenge was making sure college programs knew he was on the market and once Collins and Myers got the word out, the process turned whirlwind.
While most programs had filled out their rosters, a handful had not – including LSU. After freshman John Isaac left the program last month, the Tigers needed another guard and Collins fit the bill perfectly.
"He's a true point guard," said Myers, who coached former University of Virginia star Mike Scott at Hargrave Military Academy. "He makes other guys around him better. He had some big scoring games for us and he can make whatever shots he needs to, but he's at his best when he's getting other guys involved."
Collins averaged 25 points, 7 assists and 4.5 rebounds to help lead the Colonels to the Elite Eight of the National Prep Championships tournament.
Besides LSU, the schools after Collins the hardest were Virginia, Virginia Tech, Cincinnati and Oklahoma State. Pittsburgh, Maryland and Louisville also showed some interest.
In the end, though, a visit to LSU and a relationship forged with an old Tiger point guard were too hard to pass up.
"I developed some really good relationships and got along with the players well," Collins said. "I love the campus and just want to be a part of it.
"Playing for Coach Jones is going to be great. He's been a point guard and he knows what he wants from me and it's going to be great to be able to pick his brain and find out what he would've done."
There apparently won't be a lot of physical preparation for Collins, either.
Built more like a fullback than a point guard, Collins said having a brother who played college football at Western Carolina – Chris Collins was a Catamounts linebacker – gave him a blueprint for how to prepare for the next level.
"I've always tried to have my body right because I want to make sure I can handle the physical level of basketball," Corban Collins said. "That's one thing I knew I could be prepared for, so I worked hard."
Added Myers, "He's spent hours in the gym playing the game and getting stronger. I think people will be surprised at how physically ready he is. He'll be ready to play right away."
And just as importantly, Collins will be ready academically.
"That's always No. 1 for me," he said. "My parents always told me being a student comes before being an athlete and that's how I feel."
LSU: Class of 2012 commitments
G Corban Collins (Masanutten Military Academy)
G Malik Morgan (John Curtis Christian)
G Shane Hammink (Canarius Basketball Academy/Spain)
F Shavon Coleman (Howard College)
F Calvin Godfrey (Howard College)
G Anthony Hickey
G Andre Stringer
G/F Eddie Ludwig
G/F Jalen Courtney
F Johnny O'Bryant
C Andre Del Piero
Collins signs up to join the Tigers
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