The last of Kentucky’s transfers has found a new home.
Former UK forward Daimion Collins, who entered the transfer portal on April 21, will remain in the SEC after committing to LSU. He joins Sahvir Wheeler (Washington), CJ Fredrick (Cincinnati) and Lance Ware (Villanova) as players who transferred out of the program following the end of the 2022-23 season.
The Tigers are led by second-year head coach Matt McMahon, formerly of Murray State.
A former McDonald’s All-American and 5-star prospect, Collins was expected to have a breakout sophomore season, especially after averaging 10 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 steal while shooting over 60% from the floor in 20.5 minutes during UK’s four-game trip to the Bahamas in August.
But then tragedy struck.
Collins unexpectedly lost his father, Ben, on Nov. 1 at age 43. The elder Collins had recently sold his trucking business in Atlanta, Tex., and got an apartment in Lexington so he could watch his son play more often and so that his wife and other children would have a place to stay when in town. Father and son had been working out at the Craft Center earlier in the day, but he died alone in the apartment that night after a telephone call with his wife.
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Already rail thin, Collins lost 17 pounds and finished the season averaging just 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds in 7.9 minutes per game after averaging 2.9 points and 2 rebounds in 7.5 minutes per game as a freshman last season.
“Daimion Collins had a year I wouldn’t wish on anyone and has been through more than any player should, including losing his grandfather in the last week. He’s a talented player and a good person with a bright future,” head coach John Calipari said. “Daimion and his family know that I’ll always be here for them.”
Collins, who was also named a Naismith Third Team All-American, Max Preps and Gatorade Texas Player of the Year and to the rosters of both the Iverson and Jordan Brand Classic, averaged 35.2 points, 14.4 rebounds, 7 assists and 6.2 blocks per game as a senior at small town Atlanta High School.
He finished the 2021 recruiting cycle ranked No. 16 overall and the No. 4 power forward according to the industry average 247Sports Composite and chose the Wildcats over Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech.
As it stands right now, the Wildcats return only Adou Thiero and Ugonna Onyenso, who combined to average just 4.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game as freshmen last season to go with a top-ranked recruiting class that features three of the top 10, four of the top 15 and five of the top 40 prospects in the 2023 class, which according to the 247Sports Composite, is Calipari’s second-highest rated recruiting class of the 14 he’s had in Lexington.
Kentucky awaits final word from Chris Livingston, Antonio Reeves and Oscar Tshiebwe, all of whom have until May 31 to withdraw from the 2023 NBA Draft in order to return to school.
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