Jan. 23, 2001
|Sport: Men's Basketball
Hometown: North Hollywood, CA
High School: Harvard-Westlake
Jason Collins goes to football games. He hates getting up for breakfast at 8:15 a.m. He was a teacher's assistant for a class. His favorite part of basketball games is when the team runs on the floor for the final set of warm ups and the band is playing 'Throne Room' from Star Wars. He's a typical college student. If he were not seven feet tall, he might blend in on this campus of 6,556 undergraduates.
Alas, he is Jason Collins, and most everybody knows him, or at least his face. Granted his twin brother also goes to Stanford, but from social functions to classes, Jason is always around.
Amidst his social and scholastic endeavors, Collins manages to squeeze in another activity - basketball. The starting center for the No. 1 team in the country does not just find time for the sport - he incorporates it and his teammates into every facet of his life. He lives down the hall from starting point guard Michael McDonald and fellow big man (and twin) Jarron Collins. He has established himself as a leader among his teammates and his classmates. And it is a role he fills well.
As co-captain of this year's squad with senior Ryan Mendez, Jason is a strong voice on this team - and a loud one. Communication is an important element of the Cardinal's success so far this season, and Collins has taken it upon himself to ensure dialogue. 'I try to lead by example by making sure that everybody is communicating whether that be player-to-player or player-to-coach,' he said. 'If the coaches aren't saying something that needs to be said, I'll say it - like telling guys to box out or rebound.'
Collins also realizes the necessity of communication for continued success this season. He comments, 'Making sure everyone communicates is the biggest key - making sure everybody is on the same page and executing what they are supposed to do.'
Collins' appreciation of listening and the ability to talk effectively existed before he came to Stanford, but he put the lesson to use when he became a leader for his classmates. As a teacher's assistant in one of Stanford's most popular classes - Group Communication - Collins began understanding the diverse elements that can inhibit communication and destroy good chemistry. Understanding the fundamentals of group communication has helped him in many areas. 'It's really interesting to see when people talk and do not talk,' he noted. 'You really learn a lot about yourself and other people around you and the community here at Stanford. [Being a teacher's assistant] was so different than just being a regular student. We would sit around after the class and talk about the day and how the dialogue is going. It was a lot of fun and it helps you all around in life - like knowing how to deal with certain people and understanding how people react differently to confrontation and different situations.'
Collins' responsibility to his teammates extends beyond the court. As one member of the team, he recognizes the importance of each person playing his part to create a functional team dynamic. 'I think we all have the responsibility to be open to each other, be available to each other,' he said. 'We all hang out off the court. We make sure that we all have each other's backs and best interests in mind. We look out for each other. We all have to do that.'
The 2001 Stanford basketball team consistently talks in terms of what they 'have to do.' Each member of the team has goals. And each member of the team puts the team goals before their own. Asked what his goals were for the season, Collins responded, 'I'll start with the team goals because those are the most important goals. Win a conference title and go back-to-back-to-back by winning it three years in a row. Compete for a national championship. I want to go the Final Four and then win it. Individually, I want to have a good year and be able to go out on the floor and be the most dominant player inside the paint on the floor. I want to own the rebounds and shut (the man I am defending) down and make sure that I can score. I want to have a dominant year.'
Collins comes into this season having one full year of collegiate experience behind him and an impressive summer schedule as well. In Hawaii, he was playing at the Pete Newell Big Man Camp where the potential that has been lurking inside his big frame started showing itself. The increasingly dominant Collins notes, 'At the camp, the pros play in the morning and the college guys in the afternoon. Both Jarron and I realized that we are just as good if not better than most players in the nation and that gave us tremendous confidence to know that we are able compete at that level and do well. We got moved to working out with the pros, and I felt very comfortable working out and going up against them. It was a tremendous boost of confidence.'
Bringing that new sense of confidence back to The Farm, Jason has taken the level of his game much higher. In 31 games last year, Collins grabbed 190 rebounds. In this season's first 13 games, he recorded 118. He is more reliable than ever at the free throw line and is averaging almost 12 points per game. With his skill, his attitude and his size, Collins looks to make good on his goals. 'I don't like to lose,' he said. 'I can get competitive and I can find ways to motivate my teammates - usually through yelling. When I am on my game, I am dominant.'
By Jessica Raber