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2017 NBA Draft: Pistons fans should keep eye on PF John Collins of Wake Forest

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Wrong time for draft talk? Sure, the Pistons are fighting for their playoff lives, but March Madness is here

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Virginia Tech Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 NCAA Tournament is just about here and boy oh boy does it ever bring all the casual basketball fans to the water cooler. Yeah, this is motivated primarily by wanting to spend as much time as they possibly can away from their dreadful desk jobs and not on any keen passion or insight into college players. And you know what? It’s perfectly acceptable to be a casual basketball fan (and perfectly acceptable to have a dreadful desk job).

This is especially true when talking about NCAA basketball, where every season there’s over 330 plus college teams eligible for the NCAA Tournament. That’s a ton! Think about it — there’s currently 30 NBA teams and that sometimes seems like too many. In college basketball, there are so many teams and so many players that it’s darn difficult to keep up with it all, especially if you have any kind of social life or that thing called a job.

A couple of great things about college hoops is that the season is quite short (30 or so regular season games) and besides conference tournament play, there are no back-to-back games. Obviously this makes for better drama and the actuality is that most of the games really count and the players are playing their butts off for the entire game. Coaches actually bench players! Plus every March there’s March Madness and the brackets and the office pool betting and the players who quickly become stars and the mascots and the closeups of cheerleaders and the end-of-game calls by Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery. And, of course, there’s the bracket talk at the water cooler with Ned from finance. You thought his name was Ed before, but all this 12th seed over 5th seed “upset” talk really made you two closer. Ned isn’t just another nameless face in that other department anymore.

Where I’m going with all this is that even if you barely pay attention to college hoops, you should still consider paying attention. In fact, starting this Tuesday, March 14 at approximately 9:10pm ET Wake Forest will play Kansas State in a play-in game for the right to play 6th seed Cincinnati in the field of 64 (available on truTV and via live streaming online). Ha, some of you didn’t realize that the tournament starts before this Thursday, did you?

But why should you watch this Wake Forest-Kansas State game?

2017 NBA draft reasons, that’s why.

Wake Forest’s 6-foot-10 sophomore power forward John Collins is slated as a mid-first round pick (give or take a few spots) in the 2017 NBA draft, assuming he enters the draft, that is. Our Detroit Bad Boys could very well be drafting in the Nos. 14-18 range.

John Collins’s stats as of March 13th shake out as follows: Per game averages of 18.9 points (62 percent shooting), 9.8 rebounds in only 26.2 minutes. He’s perhaps college basketball’s most neglected potential star.

Here’s a bit about Collins from DraftExpress:

After showing impressive sparks of potential as a freshman, the 19-year-old sophomore out of West Palm Beach, Florida has really come on strong in his second season under Head Coach Danny Manning. Collins leads the ACC in points per 40 at 27.39 and also has the top PER in the conference at 33.9. He is rebounding the ball at an extremely high level (14.5 rebounds per 40) and has shown promise as a rim protector, blocking 2.5 shots per-40 minutes.

Collins still has plenty of work to do in terms of refining his offensive game (particularly his passing ability) and becoming a more consistent presence on the defensive end, where he is incredibly foul prone, but his physical tools and strong play in one of the countries toughest conferences has his name being discussed as a potential first round pick. The fact that he is younger than many of the freshmen in our mock draft, having only turned 19 in September, will certainly help his cause.

Now let’s go to some video to hopefully further whet your appetite for John Collins.

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Collins doesn’t currently have 3-point range but his ability to hit mid-range jumpers is beginning to be one of his calling cards. Sure, take some of these shots with a grain of salt considering there over smaller players than what he’ll be facing in the pros. Still, he seems to have good footwork, mechanics (wait, am I talking about baseball here?) and good touch.

One of the knocks on Collins is that he’s often out of position and therefore gets into foul trouble easily, hence his 26.2 minutes per game average (3 personal fouls per game, a little high). For being his team’s best player and in the type of condition he’s in, 26 minutes per game is pretty low. Here, however, he’s in decent position and uses his quick hops and wingspan to do damage.

The most intriguing thing in my eyes about John Collins is his perceived motor. I know motor is quite a cliche term, but it’s great to realize someone has it. Most seem to think that Collins’ motor is always ready going, as he loves to rebound and get out and run. It helps that he has good hands too. You know, for dunk highlights.

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What do you all think about John Collins? It’s obvious that the Pistons needs shooting help for next season, but would you take Collins if he’s still on the board? He might be one of the most explosive and polished power forwards in the game in three or four years.