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Let's Geaux: Atlanta, Texas, graduate Collins commits to LSU out of transfer portal

Atlanta, Texas, graduate Collins commits to LSU out of transfer portal May 25, 2023 at 3:31 p.m.
Providence forward Ed Croswell (5) and Kentucky forward Daimion Collins (4) reach for a rebound during the second half of a first-round of the NCAA Tournament Friday, March 17, 2023, in Greensboro, N.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

After more than a month in the college basketball transfer portal, former Kentucky player Daimion Collins has found a new home.

Collins -- a 6-foot-9 forward from Atlanta, Texas -- is headed to LSU for the 2023-24 season. He will have two years of NCAA eligibility remaining.

A former McDonald's All-American and the No. 14 overall recruit in the 2021 class -- according to the 247Sports rankings -- Collins came to Kentucky two summers ago with intriguing upside but a still-growing game. As a high school senior, he averaged 35.2 points, 14.4 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 6.2 blocks per game, earning Texas state player of the year honors. He was named a first-team All-American by

At Kentucky, he struggled to find immediate playing time as he continued to try and hone his skills and realize that five-star potential against a much higher level of competition. As a freshman, he averaged 2.9 points and 2.0 rebounds in just 7.5 minutes per game.

The 2022-23 season was billed as a breakout campaign for Collins, who wowed onlookers in the offseason and averaged 10.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, while blocking a team-high eight shots and hitting 17-for-23 on twos, in the Cats' four-game exhibition trip to the Bahamas. He was also a standout at the team's Pro Day event -- with dozens of NBA scouts in attendance -- in October, generating buzz as a possible draft pick after year two at Kentucky.

Later that month -- just four days after Collins' 20th birthday and two days before UK's exhibition opener -- his father, Ben, died in Lexington, where he was staying to support his son ahead of the start of the season. Ben Collins was 43 years old.

Daimion Collins missed both of Kentucky's exhibitions and the first two games of the regular season, making his 2022-23 debut in the Champions Classic loss to Michigan State, two weeks after his father's death.

UK Coach John Calipari later said that Collins -- already a thin player who had been working on gaining weight and strength over the offseason -- lost more than 15 pounds during the grieving process. As the season continued, it became clear Collins was unlikely to play a major role. A foot injury sidelined him for three weeks in January, and he never played more than eight minutes in any game the rest of the season. He played just three minutes in the Cats' season-ending loss to Kansas State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Collins averaged 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds in 7.9 minutes per game as a sophomore.

Off the court, he said he had his teammates' support and formed a particularly close bond with Calipari, who spoke throughout the season about the hardships Collins was facing away from basketball.

The Kentucky coach released a statement of support for Collins following his April 21 announcement that he planned to transfer after two years with the Wildcats.

"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," Calipari said. "He's a talented player and a good person with a bright future. (Daimion) and his family know that I'll always be here for them."

247Sports ranks Collins as the No. 107 overall transfer in the portal this offseason.

photo Kentucky forward Daimion Collins (4) is fouled by Arkansas forward Kamani Johnson during the second half Saturday, March 4, 2023, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)
photo Kentucky's Daimion Collins checks his phone at head coach John Calipari's home where team members gathered to watch the NCAA Tournament selection show Sunday, March 12, 2023, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

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