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NOT Oscar Tshiebwe

No one will ever confuse Daimion Collins, Kentucky’s 6’9” sophomore string bean of a forward, with Oscar Tshiebwe (Dr. Michael Huang Photo).

When Daimion Collins appeared for his meeting with media earlier this afternoon, I was hoping to break some important news. I wanted more than anything to tell all of BBN that Kentucky’s returning McDonald’s All-American and former Texas Gatorade Player of the Year had gained about twenty pounds during the offseason.

Here’s the scoop: IT DIDN’T HAPPEN!

In fact, sitting behind the dais in his athletic gear, Collins looked just as breakable as before.

Perhaps even more troubling, Collins’ freshman bio listed the five-star recruit as a svelte 6-foot-9 and 202 pounds. When asked what he weighed now, Collins said (GULP), “About 200.” According to my math, he’s losing weight. What in the heck is going on?

Collins’ goal is to play at a fighting weight of 215. He’s working diligently with new strength and conditioning coach Brady Welsh to quickly bulk up to that point. It’s been extremely challenging thus far, but he knows unequivocally the value those precious fifteen additional pounds would add to his overall game.

“That’s a huge priority because that’s probably one of my biggest downfalls right now is my body,” Collins readily conceded. “So, I’ve been working really hard to get my body right.”

A “right body” for Collins will make all the difference in the world between a breakout season versus another lukewarm campaign. Imagine someone with his talent and skill level who opponents couldn’t move out of the paint or push further out on the floor. Think of the back door opportunities, the alley-oops, and the open drives to the basket that would immediately open up.

“I definitely got pushed around a few times,” Collins recalled, when asked about being thrown into the fire of SEC competition. “I can’t lie about that. It taught me a lot too. It taught me how to be more physical. You gotta fight.”  

Everyone remembers Collins’ clutch ten-point, six-rebound performance in nine crucial minutes in the win against Alabama last year. Think about it—if he simply gained fifteen pounds, he could dominate everybody just like he did the Crimson Tide that night.

Here’s what makes Daimion Collins so intriguing in my mind. Talent wise, the guy can do things no one else on the team can physically do. He’s so versatile, can play both inside and out, block shots, rebound, run the floor, dribble, pass, play defense, shoot the midrange jumper, and even fire up the occasional surprise three-pointer. He’s not Oscar Tshiebwe, but he thinks he and Oscar could share minutes out on the floor together.

“He’s a big physical dude,” Collins said about his returning Player of the Year teammate. “I can move a little more [than him]. Me and him would be a good combination on the court together.”

I’m not fully convinced of that just yet. I do know, however, that both Oscar and Daimion are fantastic teammates. Oscar is one of the most affable guys around. Daimion is likeable in his own disarming way. He’s an excellent student, humble, and an extremely hard worker. Not surprisingly, the Agricultural Economics major is well mannered, courteous, and comes from good stock.

““My parents, they always just [told me], ‘Stay humble and keep working hard.’ They just kept me grounded. They sacrificed everything to make sure I had what I did.”

It’s become more and more apparent to me that Daimion Collins is a high-character dude. He loves playing basketball at the University of Kentucky. In this day and age, where guys quit and transfer out at the first sign of adversity, Collins never blinked an eye. He knows what he wants, and he’ll do everything he can to pursue his dreams.

“We’re going to keep working each and every day to get better,” he said about his teammates. “All our main goal is a national title, so we’ve gotta keep working, keep working for the national title.”

WOAH, one step at a time. First put some more bulk on that gangly frame. Then we can worry about championship trophies.

“I’ve definitely been making progress,” he assured me. “I’ve gained a few pounds here lately, but I’m still working to gain some more.”

Dr. John Huang is a UK columnist for Nolan Group Media and editor-in-chief of He also covers the NFL and MLB for Sports View America. You can follow him on Twitter @KYHuangs. If you enjoy his writing, be sure to check out his new book, KENTUCKY PASSION.

Dr. John Huang
Dr. John Huang is a retired orthodontist and military veteran. As a lifelong Wildcat fan, a fledgling author, and an occasional guest host of Just the Cats Radio, he's now living out his dream as a UK Sports columnist. Dr. Huang also covers professional sports on a regional level. You can follow him on Twitter @KYHuangs or contact him If you enjoy his writing, you can also read more at

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