Zach Collins Is Serious About 3x3
A three-time state champion from Bishop Gorman High School in Nevada, 6-foot 11 Zach Collins (Bishop Gorman H.S./Las Vegas, Nev.) is teaming up with Jalek Felton (Mulins H.S./Mullins, S.C.), Peyton Pritchard (West Linn H.S./West Linn, Ore.) and P.J. Washington (Findlay College Prep School/Frisco,Texas) to represent USA Basketball at the 2015 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championships June 4-7 in Debrecen, Hungary.
Playing on his first USA Basketball team, Collins is taking an open mind approach to the experience.
“I am just taking it day by day,” Collins said. “I just tried to put on my big boy pants, take it seriously and be mature about it.”
Collins admits that this thought was developed after his first day of training camp with coach Joe Lewandowski, who will serve as coach advisor during the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship.
“You have to take it seriously. I have to be honest when I came out here, I though 3x3 would be a breeze, but definitely it is serious.
“The training is different. You have to be able to keep going. In five-on-five, you score, you can kind of celebrate a little bit before you get back on defense. You can kind of relax for a second, but in 3x3 you can’t. It is all about the next play, literally. You have got to think fast and be prepared for anything. I think the training, if anything is harder.
“I injured my ankle pretty bad the first day I was here but I was able to get a lot of work in. I feel like in the hour and a half, two or three workouts, I have gotten better so it has definitely been a good experience so far.”
The 3x3 U18 training camp featured scrimmages with 3x3 participants such as Corey Campbell and Derek Griffin as well as the New Zealand U18 team.
“It was awesome to scrimmage the New Zealand team,” said Collins, who has verbally committed to play his college ball at powerhouse Gonzaga University. “I have never been out of the country let alone, played against players from a different country. It was definitely cool to see that even though they are so far away we play basketball the same around the world. That was cool to see. They are all great guys, we have hung out outside of the scrimmages. It has been a really good experience. It will be something I will carry with me throughout life.”
Though the team from New Zealand, which included athletes who participated in the Nike Hoop Summit in April, provided great competition for the U.S. team, Collins says his toughest competition is his teammates.
“We all have been playing basketball since we were kids, not one of us likes to lose. This is the most competitive team I have ever been on because we will get on each other, but we will not get on each other to the point that it affects the relationship on the court. We are getting on each other to win. It is very competitive, we are all in it to win.”
Collins, who played alongside 2014 USA U18 National Team gold-medalists Chase Jeter and Stephen Zimmerman for the past three years at Bishop Gorman, sees this team’s competitiveness to be key to winning a gold medal.
“The coaches do a really good job, it starts with them. They tell us that we need to compete, compete and compete to win. We all want to win, if that is what he says we have to do to win, that is what we will do. We will be as competitive as we possibly can be.”
The USA men got off to perfect start Thursday going 2-0 in preliminary play. But that was yesterday, today the USA continues to battle in preliminary play and will face Argentina (1-1) at 1:20 p.m. EDT and Indonesia (0-2) at 3:30 p.m. EDT. The U.S. team will conclude preliminary play Saturday versus Spain (2-0) at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Today's USA 3x3 games can be viewed live online at http://www.fiba.com/3x3U18WC/2015 .