Collins Preparing for USA Team Trials

Miami sophomore forward Dwayne Collins is one of 20 players across the nation who have accepted an invitation to participate in the 2007 USA Basketball U19 World Championship Team Trials.

Dwayne Collins leaves for Dallas, Texas next Thursday to try out for the USA Men's U19 World Championship team, June 28-30. A total of five trial sessions will be held, two hours each.

"It is a great opportunity to go out there and prove myself and get better because I am playing against the best competition," Collins said.

Twenty players across the country have been invited for a tryout with 14 making the squad. Some of the notable players include: Patrick Beverley (Arkansas), Darrell Arthur (Kansas), Tajuan Porter (Oregon), Raymar Morgan (Michigan State), and David Lighty (Ohio State).

Incoming freshmen Michael Beasley (Kansas State), Drew Gordon (UCLA), and James Hickson (N.C. State) are also trying out for the squad.

"I expect to make it, but I have to prove my point just like I have to do wherever I go," he said. "I have to prove a point and show people what I can do."

Collins has a good shot of making the squad especially considering his previous experience with USA Basketball.

In 2005, the summer before his senior season, Collins was part of Team USA's Youth Development Festival team.

"I think that helped me a lot to grow up and helped me out for my senior year and I had a pretty good senior year," said Collins, who admitted he was a bit surprised he made the squad.

If he makes the team, he will stay in Dallas until the team opens play in Serbia on July 12. Team USA will face Mali, China, and Serbia in preliminary play with the gold medal game on July 22.

"It would show me another part of the World," said Collins, who has not ventured outside of the United States or been away from Miami for more than a month.

FRESHMAN SEASON

Last season, Collins averaged 8.6 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 54 percent from the floor in 32 games.

Miami finished 12-20 on the season, 4-12 in the ACC

"I really enjoyed it even though we should have had a better season," he said. "Hopefully we make up for it this year and open a lot of eyes."

He started 22 games averaging 25.2 minutes per game.

"I learned because of my playing time," he said. "At one point I was the only big man and I feel I grew up a lot. They gave me more playing time than I thought I would. At one point I was playing 35 minutes a game."

Playing in the ACC, arguably the nation's toughest conferences, has its challenges, which Collins enjoyed.

"It was good, it was fun for me," he said. "I like playing in the ACC and all of those teams. I believe it is the top competition in the nation, which makes you better."

Collins said the toughest player he faced last year was Florida State forward Al Thornton, who is projected to be drafted in the first round next week.

"I didn't guard him, but he was something," Collins said. "I like his game."

EXPLOSIVE & EXCITING

Of his 106 field goals, 44 were dunks.

"I just like dunking on people," he said. "That is my favorite dunk. If I dunk, that is okay. But when I dunk on someone, that is what I like."

His favorite dunk was against Boston College on a followup on a missed layup by Denis Clemente.

"I was surprised I was able to dunk it because the ball was coming so fast and I had to snatch it and bring it back up. I saw it on tape and it was nice. That was my favorite dunk."

Because of his explosiveness, dunks, and big-time plays, Collins quickly turned into a fan favorite and is labeled as an exciting player.

"I like hearing it," he said. "That's what I have been doing since I have been playing basketball. Most of my points come from dunks."

THE NBA

While a number of his peers are preparing for the NBA Draft after leaving school a year early, most notably Greg Oden and Kevin Durant, Collins will return for his sophomore season, but does have aspirations of playing in the NBA.

While he works to get better, he looks towards two NBA players to model his game after. Kevin Garnett and Udonis Haslem.

"Udonis Haslem is a hard-worker and I like Kevin Garnett's passion for the game," said Collins, who wears No. 21 because of Garnett.

SOPHOMORE SEASON

This summer Collins is working hard to improve on his low-post moves, specifically he is working on developing his hook shot. He also would like to add a mid-range shot to his game.

With Collins' improving on a daily basis and the return of key players such as Jack McClinton, Anthony King, and Brian Asbury, Miami could be in the mix for landing an NCAA tournament bid.

"I believe we will be way better at rebounding and defending," he said.

Collins played two years of high school basketball with incoming freshman Edwin Rios.

The two helped lead Miami High to a state title in 2005, when Collins was a junior, Rios a sophomore.

"He is going to bring the up-and-down game," Collins said. "He is going to bring excitement."

The 6-foot-8 forward would like to begin the season at 240 pounds, 10 pounds heavier than he was at the start of last year.

Christopher Stock can be reached at stock@canestime.com

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