All eyes are on Chet Holmgren, the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect and projected No. 1 overall NBA draft selection in 2022, as he takes his talents to Gonzaga for his one (and almost certainly only) season of college basketball in 2021-22. At 7-foot-1 and boasting a 7-foot-6 wingspan, Holmgren is widely considered the nation’s top shot blocker and pure defender, but is also extremely versatile on the offensive end of the floor with a solid shooting touch and ball handling skills.
But don’t overlook Kentucky signee Daimion Collins, who averaged 35.2 points, 14.4 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 6.2 blocks per contest as a senior at Atlanta High School (TX) en route to 2021 First Team MaxPreps All-America and MaxPreps Texas High School Basketball Player of the Year honors.
Standing 6-foot-10, 200 lbs. with a 7-foot-5 wingspan in his own right, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony tells KSR that there isn’t a significant gap between Collins and Holmgren.
“(Collins is) an absolute freak physically, and some of the things he does on the perimeter — I don’t think the gap between him and Chet Holmgren is that big, honestly,” Givony told KSR at the MADE Hoops Midwest Mania event in Indiana this past weekend. “They have a lot of similarities. I need to see more of him. I’ve actually never seen him play live – I’ve only seen him on film – but I love everything I see from him. I think he’s got a chance to be special.”
Like Holmgren, Collins’ frame and physicality remains an issue, but Givony believes there’s still plenty of time for him to fill out before suiting up for the Wildcats next season.
“He’s got a lot of work to do in the strength department, he’s really weak physically,” Givony told KSR. “He’s not the most physical kid so I think there’s going to be a transition for him in that regard but he’s got seven months here to really lock in and work on his body.”
Givony is particularly intrigued with Collins’ fit alongside West Virginia transfer Oscar Tshiebwe, who recently confirmed that UK head coach John Calipari is looking to play four-out, one-in next season to maximize shooting and versatility. The NBA Draft analyst says Collins is versatile enough to man that four spot.
“I think the fact that Daimion can shoot is going to help him a lot [playing next to Thsiebwe] and he can pass too,” he added. “He’s a pretty versatile big man.”
During the recruiting process, Calipari compared Collins to former Kentucky superstar Anthony Davis, with his high school head coach, Jarrod Boston, adding that he has some shades of Kevin Durant, as well.
“Coach Cal tells me he’d use me how he used Anthony Davis,” Collins told KSR back in October. “He said I remind him a lot of Anthony and that I’d be able to do a lot of the things he’s doing now. … I kind of think I play like (Davis and Durant) too. I can shoot the ball, dribble, make plays, stuff like (Durant), but I can also get down low like Anthony, score the ball too. I think I’m a mixture of them too, pretty much.”
“Daimion is an incredible young man with a bright future – someone who has only begun to realize just how good he can be,” Calipari said when Collins signed with the program. “Our fans know I don’t like to make comparisons to our other guys, but Daimion has that type of length, the athleticism and the versatility that have separated our players from others. He wanted to be pushed and to be in a competitive environment to help him reach his full potential. The staff and I cannot wait to help him grow.”
See for yourself with Collins’ high school highlights from his senior year: