Coaching Frankie Collins takes some getting used to. At least that’s what Jeff Kaufman learned watching the 6-foot-1 Collins attack the basket during a recent game.
“Coaching on the sideline, there were a few plays where you expect your point guard to drive the lane and roll it up there,” Kaufman said. “He’s dunking and hanging on the rim.”
Collins, ranked No. 57 in the 2021 recruiting class, will bring that athleticism and aggressiveness to Michigan. He committed to the Wolverines last week.
Collins is the fourth member of Michigan’s 2021 class, joining guards Isaiah Barnes and Kobe Bufkin and forward Will Tschetter. Collins is the only true point guard of the bunch, giving him a chance to play early since Michigan’s two current players with point guard experience — Eli Brooks and Mike Smith — are seniors.
Collins is finishing his high school career where it started, in the Las Vegas area, at Coronado in Henderson, Nevada. Kaufman, who’s known Collins for years, will coach the talented guard; Kaufman has been impressed with what he’s seen in exhibitions this summer.
Kaufman described Collins as strong, tough, and a “phenomenal leaper.” He’s a good passer and scorer from all over the floor, and he always wants to guard the opponent’s best player.
“I would say he’s more of pass-first point guard,” Kaufman said. “But when he needs to take over a game and do his thing, he will.”
The intangibles are what help set Collins apart.
“He’s the kind of guy that especially a former college star and NBA player like Juwan Howard can see things that the average fan can’t see,” Kaufman said. “His heart and desire to want to give you everything he’s got in practice, in games — coaches pick up on that a lot faster than an average fan would.”
In-person recruiting has been banned since March, but members of the Michigan coaching staff were at Coronado before that, primarily to see Jaden Hardy, a 6-foot-4 combo guard ranked fifth overall in the 2021 class.
Michigan offered Hardy a scholarship last fall, a few months after Howard got the job. With assistant Saddi Washington taking the lead, the courtship of Collins was a slower burn, though it was clear Collins was interested. He listed Michigan among his top eight choices in July before Michigan even offered. The offer came on Aug. 7 and less than two weeks later, Collins chose the Wolverines.
Collins did not respond to a request to be interviewed for this story. He wrote about his decision for SI.com.
He said he was previously leaning towards Auburn, but felt comfortable with the “family atmosphere” at Michigan, a vibe he ascertained through Zoom calls due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
It helped that Howard is, according to Collins, “really close with my family.” Collins wrote that his uncle and Howard “have been close for a while” and that Collins “would always see (Howard) around growing up.” Collins included a photo taken with Howard when Collins was in third grade.
On the court, Collins wrote of Michigan: “I love their system because they play through their point guard and through a lot of ball screens. In that system it’s easier to create and play off of your instincts.”
Collins will play in a similar system at Coronado, sharing playmaking duties with Hardy and others. It’s a return home after beginning his prep career at Clark High in Vegas, where he led the team to an appearance in the state championship. The basketball program had major issues after that; the coaching position became a revolving door.
Collins, according to Kaufman, could not transfer to another local school without sitting out a year, and so he moved to Compass Prep in Chandler, Arizona. The plan, Kaufman said, was always to do that for a year before returning home.
“If you’re asking if it’s a red flag,” Kaufman says of the multiple transfers, “In Frankie’s case it’s not.”
Kaufman has seen kids who jump from school to school because they can’t get along with teammates or coaches. He knows that’s not the case with Collins and is confident Michigan has done its due diligence.
And so Collins becomes Michigan’s highest-ranked recruit so far in the 2021 class, and the program’s third best in the last seven years.
“I’m working on bringing more talented guys with me!” Collins wrote, specifically mentioning 7-footer Chet Holmgren, ranked second overall, and Hunter Sallis, a combo guard ranked 19th.
Sallis listed Michigan among his top-12 choices on Sunday, though the competition — Kentucky, Kansas, and North Carolina among others — is stiff. J.D. Davison, a point guard ranked 12th in the class, listed Michigan in his top-six last week.
Other prospects worth watching include center Efton Reid and versatile forward Harrison Ingram.
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