Michigan’s highly touted freshman class will arrive on campus soon, and one in particular comes with a chip on his shoulder. Point guard Frankie Collins was ranked the No. 49 player nationally by Rivals.com but only the ninth-best point guard, and he’s ready to show he was underrated.
Collins has been working on his jump shot more than anything, and while he can shoot, he just hasn’t as much. If he improves that area of his game, combined with the rest — his athleticism, incredible handle and passing ability and defensive prowess — could make him one of the top young point guards in the country.
“It’s been great,” he said of his preparation. “Honestly, because I feel so comfortable with everything I’ve been doing … I trust my work. I know I’ll prepared coming into Michigan.”
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He’s prepared in one other way, having played with elite talent at Henderson (Nev.) Coronado, including five-star Jaden Bradley. Learning how to coexist with other outstanding players shouldn’t be a problem, he continued.
“For me, learning how to play with somebody that’s good — really, really, really good — I got to play with him and get the understanding of not always having the ball in my hands … making plays for him and also making plays for myself,” he said.
“Me and Jaden clicked. I don’t know how, but we clicked. He got better and I got better. That’s all that mattered.”
That, and winning … and he did plenty of that, too. He plans the same at Michigan, where he, Moussa Diabate, Will Tschetter, Kobe Bufikin, Isaiah Barnes, Caleb Houstan and Coastal Carolina transfer DeVante’ Jones join some outstanding returning talents to provide one of the better rosters in the country.
Collins didn’t compare his group to Howard’s Fab Five class back in the early 1990s, but he did note the reboot 30 years later.
“I think he kind of did the same thing again [with us],” he said. “I feel like we’re all going to be really good. We talk sometimes here and there, have our little meetings, kind of have a connection already. Everything clicks.
“I feel like we’re a special group of guys. Some of us are like very low key, some of us are more out there, but at the end of the day, they all bring something to the table that’s going to fit like puzzle pieces.”
He can’t wait to get started, and Michigan can’t wait to have him. Assistant Phil Martelli singled him out this spring as having a ‘joy’ about his game that can’t be taught. He loves getting teammates involved, and he loves to win.
He also can’t wait to get back to playing regularly. His season was cut short due to COVID last year to the point he was only able to play AAU ball, and in only a fraction of the games.
Even then, Martelli said, he showed plenty.
“First of all, he has that edge to him. For Michigan fans, Zavier Simpson had this competitive edge,” he said. “Frankie has that. He is a relentless downhill player, and I think he’s played against everybody, and it’s across the board with these guys. They have played high level competition, seek out opportunities to improve.
“Frankie does that really well. He is a very engaging personality. He was with us every step of the way. All of them were, but he was very vocal via text with our coaches and players. There’s just a real joy in the way he plays, and I think playing with him is going to be joyful for the other guys.”
To Collins, the fact that it’s upon him almost “doesn’t feel real,” he said. He’s ready to prove who he is on the big stage, once and for all.
“I was always told I wasn’t a DI player, all this other stuff. I always had to work for everything,” he said. “Now that I’m going to be there, it’s going to be crazy.
“Even like the first day of the game or something, seeing the fans and all that, it’s going to be crazy … I’m just [focusing on] being the best player and teammate I can be for coaches and other players.”