Corban Collins is a 23 year old 190cm guard from North Carolina that completed his rookie season in Germany with the Kirchheim Knights were he played 30 games averaging 17,1ppg, 4,6rpg and 3,9apg and 1,3spg. He played a total of 118 NCAA games with LSU, Morehead State and Alabama from 2012-2017. In his senior year with Alabama he played 32 games averaging 7.0ppg, 1.8rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 35.7%, 3PT: 34.9%, FT: 65.0%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball after the season ended.
Corban thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and did you explore a bit in Europe before returning back home after playing your rookie season with the Kirchheim Knights?
No problem at all! I’m currently in North Carolina, no I didn’t explore any or Europe. I just got home yesterday.
How tough was it being overseas and away from home as a rookie? What was the first thing you did when you arrived home besides seeing family and friends? Did you scope out one of your favorite eateries?
It wasn’t as tough as I thought it was going to be, being away from home. I think I got used to being away from my family in college being so far away and at different schools. First I did when I got back was go to Chick-Fila.
How tough was it for you and the Kirchheim Knights to play a solid season, but land in 9th place missing the playoffs? Did it take a while to digest?
It was really tough to not make the playoffs. It took me a long time to digest the fact that we weren’t making the playoffs. We felt like we played a good season, we just came up short
You split the season series against Phoenix Hagen, but the 96-71 loss in Hagen cost you the playoffs, because they had a better point difference that gave them the eighth spot. This obviously hurt, but how disappointing is it remembering that the loss to last placed team Orange Academy a week earlier cost you the playoffs?
It was very disappointing remembering the lost to orange academy because we know with that win we would’ve been in the playoffs, so losing that really hurt us because it was a team we were supposed to beat, but let that game slip
If you look back at the season what things cost the team from getting to the playoffs easier? It seemed like consistency as you never had more than a 2 game winning streak and defense hindered Kirchheim from getting into the playoffs or were there some other factors?
I feel like it was a number of things that hindered us from getting to the playoffs easier. Like you said we didn’t really have any big win streaks but we were also plagued by injuries the whole year and were not able to play with our full roster for a big portion of the season. But with that being said, we had all the opportunities to make the playoffs, we just didn’t take care of business when we needed to
Let´s talk a bit about your teammates. You were a rookie, but had countless experience in the NCAA. As a point guard mind how do you feel were you able to help Charles Barton have a very strong season with Kirchheim and how did his European experience help you mature as a rookie?
I would say that Charles helped me more than I helped him. As you said, he has that European experience so he was able to help me out a lot. It was great playing alongside a great playmaker like Charles because it made my job a lot easier and he made a lot of plays and got me open shots. But being able to knock down shots and stretch the defense is a way I feel like I helped Charles this year
There were some veterans on the team, but how key was having Elijah Allen as a teammate who has seen it all in Germany in various leagues? Was he a guy that was like a mentor for you in the early going?
Elijah was a key part to my rookie season. From the first time I got there he was always willing to give me advice and always told me to just play my game. His experience and the things that he taught me were extremely helpful for me and my rookie year
How did you see the further development of young talented guards Justin Hedley and William Darouiche? What part of their games grew this season?
I saw a lot of growth in Justin and William. You can see as the year grew how much their confidence grew, especially in practice. They both have bright futures in front of them and I tried to give them as much advice that I could while playing with them
Let´s talk about your game. You’re a 190cm guard that can score, but also knows how to find your teammates. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would you choose?
I’m not sure who I would compare myself to in the NBA, but my favorite player in the NBA is Damian Lillard, so I steal a lot of his moves.
It seemed like moving mostly to shooting guard didn´t affect you. How important was it for the team having that scorer with the playmaking mind on the court?
I think it was very important for us to have a scorer on the court that could also make plays because even though I’m a scorer, I play to win so I would focus on making the right plays and if it was the right play to make a play for someone else then that’s what I did.
How important was your 26 point game in the win against Baunach for getting a good start? It seemed like you needed no adjustment period?
I think it was really important to have that 26 point game as my first game of the season. I came into the season with my mind made up to have a great season and that jump started what I felt like was a good season
How content were you with your rookie season? You averaged 17,1ppg, 4,6rpg and 3,9apg while shooting 37% form outside. You scored in double figures in 25 of 30 games. You finished the season strong scoring 32 points and 30 points against Trier and Baunach.
I’m always looking for room to improve and feel like it was times in the season that I could’ve played better for my team, but overall I feel like I had a good first season. I just went out there and did what I know that I can do and hopefully put my name out there. But it’s just a start and I’m going to have to continually get better and better and take my game to the next level.
How would you compare the NCAA and Pro A? Obviously there is more experience in the Pro A, but skill wise how much difference was there?
Comparing the NCAA and Pro A is difficult for me because I feel like it’s two different types of basketball. But as far as on a skill level, I think they’re really close. Giving Pro A a slight edge because of the experience around the league.
Except for maybe the deepest parts of Bavaria, everybody understands English in Germany, but was there ever a wakeup call to being a rookie in Germany where you knew you were far away from home in North Carolina?
Yes it was a few times that I had that “ wow, I’m in Germany” moment. But for the most part everything was smooth while I was there to where I didn’t think about being far away that much.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Charles Barton?
Charles and I both got a few wins under our belt. We both are extremely competitive and pushed each other to get better each day in practice, so the times we did play one on one it wasn’t any different.
What is the next step for Corban Collins? Would you accept another season in Germany or ready to explore another country? On what things will you be mostly working on this summer on your game?
As of right now I don’t know what next for me. My agent and I are going to sit down and see what is the best option for my career and take things from there. Whether that’s back in Germany or another country. Wherever it is we just want it to be the best next step for my career. Over the summer I’m going to focus on every aspect of my game and taking it to the next level.
How valuable was it for you having the experience to play at LSU, Morehead State and Alabama instead of just one school for 4 years. How do you feel are you different as a player having gone this route instead of playing only at one school?
I feel like playing at multiple schools in college helped me in a lot of ways, both on and off the court. Playing at different schools allowed me to play for different coaches and coaching styles, which I’m going to have to do while I’m playing overseas. It allowed me to play different levels of competition and made me respect the game and my competition because guys are good at all levels. It helped me with learning to adapt to different places and environments and taught me how to leave a lasting impression on everywhere that I go.
You started at LSU, but played very limited minutes. Despite this experience did you get anything beneficial from your season there getting your feet in the NCAA door?
Yes playing at LSU was great! I was playing with a lot of great players that have gone on to play pro ball and was able to learn a lot from them. I really enjoyed my time there.
What memories did you have of Johnny O´Bryant and Shane Hammink? The first has been a NBA role player for years and the latter just finished his rookie season in the best league in Spain. Hammink like you also didn´t play a lot as a freshman and later transferred to Valparisio.
Shane was actually my roommate, so we shared a lot of memories. Especially being freshman together, we basically did everything together! JOB was great for me at LSU. He taught me a lot while I was there and we are still close to this day. I was at his bachelor party last summer and we workout some time together in the summers.
You then moved to Morehead State where you played from 2014-2016 and your playing time increased. You increased your stats each season and shot 42% from outside. What kind of experience was it playing here and what did you gain most from it?
Going to Morehead was a great thing for me because it was a place I was granted the opportunity to play and get better and learn from my mistakes. I had a great coaching staff that invested a lot of time in me and helped me improve my game. It was a great experience that I still cherish to this day and learned how to be a better leader on and off the court and what it meant to work hard and outwork everybody.
What was the tougher loss to E Illinois where you scored 28 points or the three point loss to Nevada losing in the OVC semi-finals which was your last game at Morehead State?
I would say losing my last game was the tougher lost. That game just meant more to the school and my team then the game I had 28.
You moved one more time to Alabama(NCAA) for your senior year. What were the main reasons for leaving Morehead where you had had two solid years on the court?
The decision to go to Alabama was strictly because I felt like I belonged on that level and wanted to get back to competing against the best of the best every night. I started off at that level and wanted to finish on that level.
Was one of your most memorable games beating your ex school LSU 81-66 and pouring in 24 points on 7 three´s? Was there some revenge factor or was it just a normal game? What memories do you have of that game?
Yes, playing at LSU and having one of my best games of the year was definitely one of the highlights while at Alabama. I wouldn’t say that it was a revenge factor, I would just say I was really excited to be back playing there and wanted to leave a lasting impression. I remember my coaches asking me if I was ready to play and just telling them that it was going to be a good night!
Alabama played Kentucky tough losing 79-74 and you steered home 8 points in 15 minutes off the bench. What memories do you have battling future NBA players DeAaron Fox and Malik Monk? How motivation does their path give you to keep grinding and working hard in the lab to fine tune your game?
That was an exciting game that went down to the wire. It was always great battling those guys, as well as the rest of the guards in the SEC, because you had to bring your A-game every night. Those guys are great players and are going to have great careers in the NBA and motivates me to continue to work and improve my game each and every day to someday be playing against them again.
With all due respect to Fox and Monk´s talent on the court, how much further do you see them in their game when you look at how you have developed? Is there often so much difference between guys like them and other talented guards in the NCAA?
Those guys are really good and there’s a lot of really good guards in the NCAA. Those guys have what the scouts and NBA teams are looking for, as far as size, speed, athletic ability, etc. other guys that may be as good as them in the NCAA might not have those same tools which gives guys like them an edge.
How did head coach and ex NBA player Avery Johnson give you that last touch in helping groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach AJ did a great job helping me develop my game to be able to translate to the next level. Not only did he play in the NBA, he coached there too so he knows a lot about the game as a player and coach so he was always teaching me things that I’m going to always use while I’m playing
Who won a one on one in practice you or Dazon Ingram?
Dazon is a great player and future professional. We got after it a lot while I was at Alabama and I’m sure we both got our fair share of wins
Who was the toughest player that you ever faced in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
The toughest player that I faced in college that’s in the NBA now is Caldwell-Pope who plays for the LA Lakers and played college at Georgia.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
My NBA Rushmore right now for current NBA players would be – Lebron, Westbrook, Anthony Davis, James Harden.
Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and is still three away from Michael Jordan. Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the never ending debate of who is the best of all-time?
I just like to say that they both are the greatest of their generation and era and the top two to ever play. I just like to leave it at that
There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?
I love Westbrook and personally don’t think that he’s trying to do things just for stats. I love his competitive nature and how hard he plays and I think that he’s out there trying to win. Not out there for stats.
How did you experience the 2018 NCAA March Madness? What was the most spectacular upset in the tournament?
I loved March Madness this year, it was a lot of madness going on! My favorite upset was UMBC beating Virginia. That was a great moment for that school and program
Deandre Ayton seems lie he could be the #1 NBA draft pick in 2018. But having been in Europe this season you must of seen some highlights of Real Madrid´s 19 year old stand out Luca Doncic who belonged to the best players in the Euroleague. Should a guy like that be the automatic #1 pick just from sheer experience and talent?
I think that the #1 pick should be based off of what the team needs, whether that’s a young guy with only one year of college ball under his belt or a guy like Doncic who has more experience. They’re both great players and will have great careers, but I think the pick should be based off of the teams needs.
Lebron James makes amazing passes in every game, but really showcased it in a game this season against the Los Angeles Lakers. He already is like a point guard, but if he played just point guard and concentrated only on playmaking how many assists do you feel would he average per game?
I think that he can average about 15 assists if that’s all he had to do.
What was the last movie that you saw? Let me guess Black Panther?
The last movie that I saw was definitely Black Panther. I saw it a couple times. “Wakanda Forever!”
Thanks Corban for the chat.