TAMPA - The University of South Florida men's basketball program has announced the signing of guards Blake Nash and Anthony Collins to National Letters of Intent, Head Coach Stan Heath announced Wednesday afternoon on the opening day of signing period.
Blake Nash is a 6-foot, 185-pound point guard from Williston State College in North Dakota while Anthony Collins, a 6-1, 175-pound point guard, is a prep player who hails from Houston's Westbury Christian School. Nash will have three years of eligibility with the Bulls while Collins will be a four-year Bull.
"It was important for us to improve our guard play heading into the 2011-12 season," said Heath. "We're excited to have Blake Nash and Anthony Collins join the basketball program. Both players have terrific ball skills and passing skills. Blake adds three-point shooting while Anthony is more of a pure point guard who can run a basketball team. Both guys also have the tenacity to defend at the other end of the court. These guys should make our guard play go to another level and should make our basketball team a lot better."
In his lone year at Williston State College, Blake Nash led the Tetons by scoring 22.3 points per night, while also averaging 5.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.3 steals per game. He shot 55 percent (168-304) from the field, 42 percent (81-195) from long range while hitting 76.9 percent (113-147) at the line.
As a freshman, Nash led Williston State to a 24-9 record and its second-straight Region XIII championship. He was a second-team performer on the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I All-American team and was the Most Valuable Player in the Montana-Dakota Conference and Region XIII. In a game against Southeastern Community College, he scored 38 points for the night, 14-straight in the first half. Nash was also a three-time Mon-Dak Conference Player of the Week.
The native of Casa Grande, Ariz., Nash is the complete package as a point guard, with quickness and strength as well as the ability to make plays and is a good on-ball defender. He is proven to be an excellent scorer, and can slash and go to the rim.
Nash played his prep years at Fairfax in Los Angeles and Chandler Basha High in Arizona, and summer ball for the Arizona Magic. He chose USF over offers from Big 12 contenders Oklahoma and Texas A&M as well as BIG EAST Conference foe Georgetown.
"Blake is an outstanding leader from the point guard position, he really understands how to run a basketball team," said USF Assistant Coach Jeremy Cox. "Secondly, he's competitive. He's a guy that has played for quality teams in big games and he found ways to win. That was something we needed. He's a pass-first guy, but he can score the ball as two-thirds of his shots were threes. He can really play against ball screens, which is what the game is evolving to. He can score out of the ball screen, either by shooting behind the ball screen, by pulling up and shooting it, or by creating for others on the other side of the screen. He's going to be a welcome addition and asset to our team."
While starting all four years at Westbury Christian School in Houston, Anthony Collins won a pair of TAPPS (Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools) Class 4A state championships and led his team to the title game his senior season. He is Westbury Christian's all-time assists leader and he scored more than 1,000 points in his career. He earned first-team all-state honors three-straight years and was a four-time first-team all-district player. In his senior campaign, he averaged 12 points, 8.3 assists and 3.0 steals per game, hitting 60 percent from the field and 70 percent at the line for the Wildcats.
Collins helped Westbury to the 71st annual Houston ISD Boys Basketball Tournament Championship by defeating rival boys powerhouse Houston Yates in the title game. Collins has earned all-tournament accolades at the Houston Jaycee Tournament and the US Bank Holiday Classic and was selected by a Houston sports magazine to the All-VYPE First Team.
A pass-first point guard who likes to create, Collins is very quick, has tremendous ball handling skills and likes to play defense. He is a player with great point guard instincts who likes to push the ball on the break and get into the lane.
A true point guard who played grassroots basketball for Houston Hoops, Collins chose to become a Bull despite looks from Baylor, Texas Tech, TCU and Nebraska. Collins also has connections with the BIG EAST Conference as his brother, J.D., played at West Virginia (2002-06).
"Anthony Collins is a guy who can lead and run the team," said USF Assistant Coach Reggie Hanson. "His basketball IQ is off the charts and he has amazing speed. In games, he's full speed ahead and he makes everyone around him better. He's a great passer and he creates shots for all of the other guys. He loves to defend and he understands winning. He's started all four years and he's won a lot of games. He's also a great kid and student."
Nash and Collins join a pair of big men who signed in the early period, Andre Jackson (6-10, 310 lbs.) and Tolulope "Jordan" Omogbehin (7-3, 291 lbs.). Jackson has two seasons with the Bulls while Omogbehin will have four years of eligibility at USF.
"This may be our best recruiting class," said Heath. "We've addressed the areas we felt we needed to improve in, and in a big way. The guard play will be extremely strong next season with the addition of these two players [Nash and Collins] and Victor Rudd, who is also counted as a recruit in that class. He's a 6-8 guard that can really score the basketball. Then we added two gigantic players who are going to give us a physical presence inside. Andre Jackson has the ability to score, rebound and take up space at 6-10, 310 pounds. Then Jordan Omogbehin, at 7-3, 291 pounds, will have some work to do, but along with his size, his footwork and hands are very good, so I expect him to contribute as well."