With the combination of a group of returnees led by Danuel House and a highly regarded recruiting class, at the very least Texas A&M is expected to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time during Billy Kennedy’s tenure as head coach. Sunday afternoon the program added another player capable of helping them, as former USF point guard Anthony Collins committed to Texas A&M.
News of his commitment was first reported by CBSSports.com, and as a graduate student Collins will be eligible immediately for the Aggies.
In his first season after missing most of the 2013-14 campaign with a knee injury, Collins started all 32 games for the Bulls and averaged 7.1 points and 5.2 assists (2.2 A/T ratio) in nearly 34 minutes of action per contest. More of a distributor than scorer, Collins shot 44.2 percent from the field and 27.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Collins is also a good perimeter defender, and his addition gives the Aggies an experienced player who can get the ball to House (and other offensive options that may emerge) in spots where they can be successful.
Alex Caruso led the Aggies in assists last season, averaging 5.5 per game, and Texas A&M also returns rising sophomores Alex Robinson and Avery Johnson Jr. when it comes to players who can play the point. Bringing in Collins should lead to Caruso, the team’s second-leading scorer at 9.1 ppg, getting more scoring opportunities on the wing opposite House.
With the talent they have, which includes four four-star recruits, Texas A&M should be an NCAA tournament team next season. Whether or not that happens will depend upon how well the pieces mesh together.
South Florida is losing two players to transfer on Monday, including an interesting graduate transfer candidate. Redshirt junior point guard Anthony Collins and freshman forward Dre Clayton are leaving the Bulls. The duo leaving was first reported by ESPN.com‘s Jeff Goodman.
The 6-foot-1 Collins was a starting point guard for the Bulls and played a hand in their 2012 NCAA Tournament appearance. Collins played only eight games due to swelling in his left knee in 2013-14 and was granted a medical hardship waiver from the NCAA. This past season, Collins averaged 7.1 points and a team-leading 5.2 assists per game while shooting 44 percent from the field and 27 percent from 3-point range.
Since he has already graduated from South Florida, Collins can become immediately eligible at the next school he chooses and likely becomes an attractive option for a team searching for an experienced floor general.
Clayton is a 6-foot-6 freshman who averaged less than a point per game. The native of Orlando struggled to acclimate to The American and only shot 24 percent from the field and 16 percent from 3-point range.
Losing Collins will certainly hurt South Florida next season, but moving on without Clayton shouldn’t be too difficult. In his first season as head coach of the Bulls, Orlando Antigua guided the program to a 9-23 record and 3-15 conference record.
South Florida junior point guard Anthony Collins was granted a medical hardship wavier from the NCAA on Tuesday evening, the program announced via Twitter.
Collins, the Bulls starting point guard, was limited to only eight games during the 2013-2014 season due to swelling in his left knee. The 6-foot-1 floor general averaged 6.9 points, 5.9 assists and 1.9 steals per game in his shortened season.
“I’m 100 percent and I feel great and I can’t wait to get back on the court,” Collins said in an interview with USF play-by-play announcer Jim Louk last month.
Collins, who was a member of the NCAA tournament team in 2012, graduated this spring and elected to stay at USF rather than gain immediate eligibility at another school. The Bulls were 6-2 in non-conference play with Collins in the lineup. USF stumbled to a last-place finish in the American Athletic Conference with a 12-20 (3-15 AAC) record. In the offseason, Orlando Antigua replaced Stan Heath as head coach.
The return of Collins is a boost for the first-year head coach who saw a handful of players depart the program this offseason, including guards JaVontae Hawkins and Josh Heath, Stan’s son.
As a sophomore, Collins averaged 8.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. Last season, he was an AAC preseason second team pick.
After struggling mightily on the offensive end of the floor in 2012-13, the USF Bulls had hopes of improving in 2013-14. However that never came to fruition, with the Bulls going 12-20 overall and 3-15 in American Athletic Conference play as expected starting point guard Anthony Collins missed most of the season with a knee injury. As a result a change was made at the top, with Stan Heath being replaced by former Kentucky assistant Orlando Antigua.
Among the questions being asked this summer is whether or not Collins will be a factor for USF as they look to climb out of the cellar in the American. In a video interview with USF play-by-play announcer Jim Louk, Collins speaks about both last season and his upcoming junior season.
“I’m committed to staying at USF,” Collins said when asked about his commitment to the program by Louk. “I was on the team when we went to the NCAA tournament for the first time in [about] 20 years, and I want to do it again. I want to be the first person here to do it twice; that’s what drives me.”
Under Antigua the plan is to play at a faster tempo, and if Collins can return to the level he played at in his first two seasons USF will have a capable point guard running the show. As a freshman Collins dished out 5.9 assists per contest (1.5 A/T ratio), increasing that number to 6.5 assists per game (2.4 A/T ratio) as a sophomore. With a new regime taking over and their lone double-digit scorer (Victor Rudd) gone, USF will need an effective Collins if they’re to make strides in 2014-15.
With Collins being 100% from both a health and a commitment standpoint, the Bulls are better positioned to be competitive now than they were for most of the 2013-14 campaign.
On Tuesday, Mark Harlan, formerly of UCLA, was introduced as South Florida’s new athletic director. During his introductory comments, Harlan explained what his schedule held in the coming days, saying he would meet with student-athletes and “…listen, listen, listen … then evaluate. Then I will act. I want to learn what’s working, what’s not working, then make some decisions. There are some decisions that need to be made.” The next day, USF dropped a closely-contested AAC tournament game to Rutgers. While Harlan doesn’t officially start until April 7th, Harlan apparently listened and evaluated on Thursday before acting today, firing coach Stan Heath.
The Bulls aren’t devoid of talent, and this past season, one that resulted in a 12-20 record and the loss of Anthony Collins, USF’s star guard whose year was significantly cut short by injuries, was not totally dreadful. The team had three AAC wins, and did beat Alabama during the non-conference slate. Whoever is hired by Harlan will have a stacked roster entering the 2014-15 season, and USF clearly has the pieces to contend. Collins had been shut down for most of the year, and his improved health will be crucial. The freshmen frontcourt duo of Chris Perry and John Egbunu should take the sophomore leap and spend next year beasting other conference bigs, and the year of experience under Heath will benefit one of the nation’s youngest teams.