Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Frustration a Motivation for Collins

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Frustration a Motivation for Collins

Article excerpt

If this story was about bitterness, disappointment or anger,

it would start here:

A young man, doing math in his head.

Take the most difficult basketball year of your life. Break

it down into NBA games played. Multiply by minutes averaged.

"Three games," James Collins says. "A total of three games."

Which added up to . . .

"Frustration."

And?

"That's pretty much it," he says, laughing.

He played 23 games last season as a rookie for the Los Angeles

Clippers. He measures it another way. Court time.

In court time, his season totaled three measly games.

"I feel like I haven't been able to start my career," he says.

Such is the state of mind of the Best High School Basketball

Player Ever to Come Out of Jacksonville, early 1990s style. He's

a second-year guy with no team, a guy who didn't make the mark he

wanted as a first-year guy.

He's confident but knows the chance he wanted all his life may

or may not come. He doesn't feel it's his fault, feels he's

better than he got a chance to show. He knows not getting a

chance to show could hurt his chances next year, too.

And you know what?

He's OK with it, and that's where this story begins.

Collins, who played at Jackson High School and Florida State,

is playing for the Jacksonville Barracudas of the USBL. The

Clippers, who drafted him in the second round, did not renew his

contract, which is fine with him. He says he might be back with

the Clippers. Or not. He dislikes the organization and likes his

chances with another team.

The Barracudas are for staying in shape, for his future. He

believes given the right chance, he can start -- even star -- in

the NBA.

Or, he says, he might not.

That's reality, and it's hard to express how strange that is.

If Jacksonville had a high school legend in the early 1990s, he

was it. He scored 50 points in his second high school game and

led Jackson to a state title as a senior. As can't-miss as

can't-miss can be.

What strikes me about Collins, though, was that this season he

faced reality -- that not everyone becomes a star, even high

school legends -- and he returned same as always, humble and

unconcerned about what people say. …

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