Corban Collins doesn’t look like a college freshman-- in a good way.
He’s not a skinny kid. He’s physically imposing at 6-feet-3-inches and nearly 200 lbs. His arms bulge out of his snow white LSU jersey.
The jarring thought is that he shouldn’t be a college freshman. He could easily still be a senior at Massanutten Military Academy. Instead, he’s weeks away from embarking on his collegiate career at LSU.
“About two weeks away from graduation, I sat down with my dad and my AAU coach and my high school coach, and I said I was ready to play college basketball,” Collins said. “I feel like I have to right body for it, the right mindset.”
Once LSU Assistant Coach Robert Kirby got wind of Collins’ decision, he went to work.
Kirby previously had a relationship with Collins’ AAU coach from his time recruiting former Mississippi State point guard Dee Bost, a player Kirby ultimately reeled into the Bulldog program.
Collins pulled the trigger and headed down to Baton Rouge.
If Collins can make the impact Bost did on an SEC West program, the Tigers will be in good shape as the four-year starter left Starkville as the all-time assist leader.
All indications are that Collins will help right out of the gate.
“Corban I think will be very competitive,” said LSU Head Coach Johnny Jones. “He will be a freshman, but I think when you get the opportunity to see him, his build, he won’t back down from anybody. I think he’ll look at it somewhat like a Hickey who came in and saw quality minutes as a freshman.”
Hickey, who, like Collins, signed with LSU late in the recruiting process, started 31 of 33 games last season. Collins and Hickey have already formed a bond in the summer and fall.
“I call him my little brother,” Hickey said of Collins. “I gotta push him every day like I want somebody to push me every day. If that takes me beating him down every day in practice, I gotta do what I gotta do.”
Beating up ‘little brother’ who has three inches and 15 lbs. on Hickey may not come so easily.
Collins said Wednesday that he likes to play a physical brand of basketball, something Hickey, a former high school quarterback, doesn’t seem to mind.
The competition fosters improvement, but so does Hickey’s mentoring. Playing a season against guards like Bost, Marquis Teague and Ervin Walker goes a long way.
“I’ve learned tons,” Collins said. “My entire mindset has shifted to an SEC point guard just from playing with him for the last couple of months.”
Collins also talked about playing with Hickey, saying that the two have already figured out how to play with each other and find each other.
It’s been another easy adjustment.
Becoming a college student athlete hasn’t been as drastic a change as some freshmen experience, either. Collins spent his last two years away from home at prep school. That said, Collins admitted that classes have been difficult but getting off to a good start has been a priority before the regular season starts.
With academics in control, Collins can lock in on something he’s dreamt of doing for a long time-- playing college basketball.