David Collins Flourishing During Sophomore Season At USF

USF coach Brian Gregory is impressed with the progress David Collins has made

TAMPA – Mother knows best.

Who’s to argue? Certainly not David Collins, who talks to his mother following every game.

Dorothy Collins knows a thing or two about the hardwood, after all. The University of South Florida guard’s mother, when she was known as Dorothy Bowers, piled up 2,304 points to rank atop the career scoring list at Youngstown State. While lighting up the Ohio Valley Conference she also recorded what are two of the top three individual scoring seasons in program history. So, she knows what it’s like to be a successful student-athlete and when she has something to say, her son listens.

“She’s one of my biggest critics and she stays on me,” said Collins. “The biggest thing is that she wants me to get my degree and I want stay focused on that, too.”

Collins has had no trouble maintaining his focus on and off the court at USF.

Through 14 games the 6-foot-3 sophomore leads the Bulls in scoring with an average of 14.3 points and his 2.5 steals are second. Last season he averaged exactly 10 points and earned American Athletic Conference All-Rookie Team honors.

“I think it helped to be recognized for playing good,” he said of what the conference recognition did for his confidence.

Collins, who started his high school career at Ursuline in his native Youngstown, transferred to First Love Christian Academy in Washington, Pa., a prep school about 30 miles southwest of Pittsburgh.

Collins, who knew FLCA coach Khayree Wilson from the summer AAU circuit, averaged 18 points as a senior and in the process attracted a number of Division I offers before ultimately deciding to come to Tampa.

Brian Gregory is glad he did. The second-year USF coach, who arrived on campus a couple of months before Collins, has noticed a steady improvement in his player’s game.

“He’s a hard-working kid and has a great body, so he plays a physical brand of basketball, but he has improved in so many areas,” he said. “He is better with the ball, defends better, shoots better. He’s starting to get much better in terms of his basketball feel as well, which is critical for us.”

Off the court Collins, a salutatorian at FLCA, is studying finance. A high school project that taught investing had him hooked in that area of the business world.

“We invested in bonds and actually into the stock market through MarketWatch,” he said of the virtual trading platform in which participants can compete in portfolio building. “I really like it and I wanted to go in that direction.”

It has definitely been a bull market for Collins and USF so far this season. A January 2 win over visiting UConn, the team’s first over the Huskies in 11 meetings since the formation of the AAC in 2013, gave the Bulls their 11th win, one more than all of last season when they finished 10-22.

USF enters Wednesday night’s game (7 p.m., ESPN3/820 AM) against Tulane (4-10/0-2) at the Yuengling Center 11-3, including 1-1 in conference play.

“We practice really well and build habits that carry over into games,” said Collins when asked about why things are clicking the way they are this season. “We always play hard and have a lot of guys giving us good stuff like (redshirt freshman forward Alexis) Yetna, who is averaging a double-double and (junior guard LaQuincy Rideau), who is leading us in assists. Everybody is playing together and everybody understands their roles.”

Thanks in large part to Dorothy, Collins is performing very well in his roles.

Tom Layberger has been a sports writer and editor since 1990. Among the companies he has worked for are Beckett Publishing, The Topps Company and Comcast. In addition to being a contributing writer for sportstalkflorida.com, Tom also writes for forbes.com and Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs and a University of South Florida grad, Tom is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. He resides in Tampa.