Charli Collier's 44-point game was wild as hell. WNBA fans, click here to get excited.
Yo, she's good.
College basketball started.
Let’s talk about the standout player so far.
Charli Collier is a 6-foot-5 draft-eligible junior from Texas who embarrassed the hell out of a much weaker North Texas team on Sunday, scoring 44 points on 14-of-17 shooting with 16 boards in a 37-point win. Yes, this game was against a non-conference team, but there’s a helluva lot to be excited about by Collier’s performance.
If you — like me — are fairly new to women’s college basketball (my last job over the last 4 years had me cover the NBA during the winter and play catch-up before the WNBA draft), there's a few things to know about Collier’s career up to this point. For one, she was a big-time, five-star recruit coming out of high school. ESPN ranked her the second-best player in her class behind UConn’s Christyn Williams. Despite her high ranking, Collier did not start for the Longhorns her freshman year, and only averaged 6 points and 4 rebounds in 14 minutes off the bench. Last year, as a sophomore, she showed star potential, though. She started every game, averaged 13 points and 11 rebounds, made 35 percent of 79 three-point shots, and 43 percent of her shots overall. And that, folks, brings us to this year.
A few things impressed me about Collier’s best-ever college performance: her shooting from distance, her positioning in the post, her handles, her control on finishes and her ability to play for long stretches without a break. I’m gonna try explaining all the things I loved about watching this Collier game as briefly as possible. Ok here we go.
Her stats: 34 minutes, 44 points, 14-of-17 shooting, 2-of-2 from deep, 14-of-15 from the free throw line, 16 boards, 4 turnovers. It’s… hard to play better than this.
Her highlights: Here’s a great compilation from Ben Dull
Here are her plays that stuck out to me:
Collier’s lone attack from the wing that didn’t even count.
When I’m scouting for pro-level talent, I like to look for standout ~moments~ that a superstar WNBA player would create. And this felt like a helluva moment to me. Watch Collier — again, a 6’5 center — give a quick hesitation move around the three-point line, then take just two dribbles before taking two long strides and finishing with a scoop over the smaller defender. Damn! That’s a guard's play.the charli collier play ive been most excited by so far ⬇️ wish they'd let her loose more often. i want to see her game outside of post-ups
Collier’s three-point stroke
The WNBA doesn’t demand the same shooting from its centers that NBA teams do yet, but that’s coming sooner rather than later as Breanna Stewart, Elena Delle Donne and Candace Parker push the boundaries of what playing the 5 means. And especially as their teams (the Mystics and Storm mostly) are influencing the younger generations and rebuilds (see what the Liberty did with Amanda Zahui B this season and what the Lynx are doing with Napheesa Collier.)
And Bam! Here we have Collier set a screen and pop. Swoosh. If she can improve on her 35 percent shooting from distance from last year (which is pretty good already), she’s going to be a lottery guarantee. Her stellar free-throw shooting is already a good sign.
Collier wasn’t just tall, she played big
As a small person myself, I’m not gonna lie, it’s very frustrating watch tall people not use their strength in basketball. That’s something tons of young bigs struggle with. I’m still waiting for Teaira McCowan to consistently assert herself as not just the tallest tower, but the most physical one, positioning herself for success and not merely relying on wingspan to corral boards.
In this game, Collier showed she can use her size. Watch here as she avoids the box out by swim-moving over-the-top to secure this board. That’s a move she’ll need to use against much taller bigs like Liz Cambage (6’8), Brittney Griner (6’8) and Sylvia Fowles (6’6) at the next level.
Here’s a bonus
Nothing happened here on this play, but I was really excited to see Collier push the ball down the floor on her own. This isn’t part of her game yet, but why can’t it be?
I know somebody else who’s still trying:
It’s still very early in the college basketball season, and each prospect will have their ups and downs. But keep an eye on Collier. Finding a 6’5 player with her skillset is rare. Let’s see if she can replicate a game like this against a stronger team.
Also, remember folks, the WNBA Draft lottery is this Friday
During halftime of the Lousiville vs. DePaul game on Friday (which tips at 6:30 p.m. ET), the WNBA will announce the winners of the 2021 draft lottery. Due to cumulative record over the last two years, the Liberty, who finished with the worst combined record, will have the best odds at pulling the top pick (44.2%.) The Dream will have the second-best odds (27.6%), then the Wings (17.8%), followed by the Fever (10.4%.) The rest of the draft order will go in reverse record order, and only these four teams will have a chance of earning the top pick.
I’ll have more on that this weekend, but fans of those four teams, keep an eye out for Collier.
That’s all from me. Enjoy your week!