Blazers trade up to draft Gonzaga center Zach Collins

Blazers make move to draft Zach Collins

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Portland Trail Blazers traded up to select Gonzaga center Zach Collins with the 10th overall draft pick Thursday in the NBA Draft.

Portland sent the 15th and 20th picks to the Sacramento Kings, who originally held the No. 10 pick. Multiple sources had reported earlier in the day that the Blazers were interested in trading up into the top 10. One report indicated Portland was targeting Collins.

The 19-year-old center, Gonzaga's first one-and-done draft prospect, found out about the trade "about 30 seconds" before he took the stage and donned a Kings hat, he said.

"To be honest, I just know that they're a tough team and they don't really back down from anybody," Collins said. "And those are traits I grew up with and are part of my game as well. Just that, in itself, I can fit in almost perfectly there."

Blazers star point guard Damian Lillard welcomed Collins to the team on Twitter.

The Blazers also selected Purdue big man Caleb Swanigan with the 26th pick in the first round.

Collins came off the bench as a freshman at Gonzaga, but he was highly effective when he was on the court. In only 17 minutes per game, Collins averaged 10 points, six rebounds and two blocks per game. He has the ability to score inside and out and has good height and athleticism. Collins' per-40-minute stats were 23.2 points, 13.6 rebounds and 4.1 blocks per game.

In Gonzaga's 77-73 win against South Carolina in the national semifinal game, Collins led the Bulldogs with 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks.

In the championship game against North Carolina, he was limited to 14 minutes because of foul trouble, but had nine points, seven rebounds and three blocks in his limited playing time. Collins struggled with foul trouble during his freshman season at Gonzaga, averaging more than six fouls per 40 minutes.

VIDEO: Blazers GM Neil Olshey speaks about the team's draft selections

Collins helped lead Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas to four consecutive Nevada state championships and the Bulldogs reached the national championship game for the first time in school history during his freshman season. He said he'll bring that same winning mentality to the NBA.

"I'm not going to be satisfied just being drafted," he said before the draft. "I want to be an all-star. I want to win championships. I want to win on every team I'm on."

The 19-year-old didn't shoot a lot of 3-pointers at Gonzaga, but he made 10 of the 21 he attempted, a 48-percent clip. Collins said he believes he'll be a 3-point shooter in the league, which fits seamlessly into Blazers coach Terry Stotts' offense.

"I definitely think I'm going to be a 3-point shooter in the league," Collins said. "But I'm not going to be just a 3-point shooter who can't go inside." Collins said he patterns his game after Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki, two players he said he studied growing up.

The Blazers filled a need by drafting Collins. Collins said he can play either power forward or center. He will likely compete for the starting power forward position with Noah Vonleh and could also glean minutes backing up Jusuf Nurkic at center.

After the draft, Collins didn't mince words when it comes to what he thinks he can accomplish in his first year: "I don't see why I can't be Rookie of the Year."

ESPN's Chad Ford said the Blazers made a smart move.

"Collins is a great fit with the Blazers," Ford wrote. "They've been looking for an upgrade at the 4 who can both stretch the floor and protect the rim. They've tried several players, but none of them has the upside of Collins. He needs to get stronger, but he was worth No. 15 and No. 20."

During his senior season at Bishop Gorman, Collins averaged 17.3 points, 14 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 6.4 blocked shots. He was named Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year and was a McDonald's All-American.

In return for Collins, Sacramento got the draft rights to small forward Justin Jackson out of North Carolina, the 15th overall pick, and Duke forward Harry Giles, the 20th.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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