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story.lead_photo.caption Daimion Collins Photo by Courtesy Tyler Morning Telegraph

ATLANTA, Texas — Atlanta Rabbits boys basketball star Daimion Collins is seeing a sea of blue these days.

Collins, a five-star forward, has committed to the blue-clad University of Kentucky to continue his basketball career.

Collins was flanked by his parents behind a table with all of his jerseys from high school and offseason league teams when the 6-foot-8, 210-pound athlete stood to reveal the shirt of his chosen school underneath his jacket.

"I'll be committing to the University of Kentucky," Collins told reporters. "Go, Wildcats."

Collins said he picked Kentucky, led by coach John Calipari, because he wants to be a part of a program that can help him get to the NBA.

"I mean, find somewhere that fit me best, somewhere that would prepare me for the next level, somewhere that I could see myself going and playing and getting ready for the NBA," Collins said.

Collins knew basketball was his chosen route when in his freshman year he hit a growth spurt from 6-3 to 6-8. The extra height was a sign for Collins that he ought to consider his future.

"I knew then that it was my time to start taking it seriously," Collins said.

Choosing Kentucky wasn't easy, as Collins says he had to endure a "long, hard process" of getting to know each coach from every school that gave him offers. Furthermore, he had to evaluate how he would fit in their systems.

With Collins headed for Lexington, Kentucky (about 686 miles from Atlanta or a 10-hour trip), the Rabb took a moment to express his gratitude for the bevy of support he has received throughout his career.

"I want to thank everybody that has supported me, coming out and watching, and everybody that has watched me a lot from social media," Collins said. "I just want to say thanks."

Jarrod Boston, his high school coach, said Collins is an excellent defensive player in addition to his scoring prowess on offense.

"When he wants to, he can lock down defensively one-on-one with anybody in the nation, I feel like," Boston said. "He gets to shots that you think, there's no way he can block that. He will jump up and block it. He has great timing, length."

Boston said he remembers Collins getting the Wildcats' offer.

"We sat down and talked when he got the offer; he was really excited, came in smiling in my office," Boston told KSR Radio in Kentucky. "I said, 'You have to seriously think about this. What's your end goal? What do you want to do in life?' He wants to play in the NBA, I'll be honest with you."

In his own coach's words, Kentucky maintained the "greatest pitch ever."

"It's the greatest pitch ever: "You come here, and we'll give you the chance to play in the NBA," Boston said of UK's goes-without-saying recruiting pitch. "He knows. He wants to get a shot. I said, 'Well, you realize if you go to Kentucky, you will get a shot. You'll at least get looked at and have the resources to get looked at.' It's all up to how hard he's willing to work, what he's willing to do. That's Kentucky's allure."

Collins said he chose the Wildcats over a final five that also included Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech.

"They will push me to be my best," Collins told ESPN. "I like how their players have developed. Me playing with and against great players, hopefully it will make me a great player. I am ready for the challenge."

Collins is ranked No. 24 in the ESPN 100 for the 2021 class. He's rated No. 6 power forward in the country.

The scouting report on Collins says: "He is an elite shot-blocker and rim protector. What makes him special is he can impact the game without scoring. His offensive game is developing at a steady pace. Collins displays 3-point range, which gives him a valuable tool to complement his post-up game. Consistency is the next step for his face-up game. At the same stage, you can see similarities between him and (Los Angeles Laker) Anthony Davis. Calipari's best teams always had an elite big man; Collins fits that bill."

Davis, a 6-foot-10, 250-pound power forward, won his first NBA championship with the Lakers this year.

"Coach Cal tells me he'd use me how he used Anthony Davis," Collins told reporters. "He said I remind him a lot of Anthony and that I'd be able to do a lot of the things he's doing now. When I come there, the development, he says he'll be able to develop me."

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