Isaiah Collier has a message for doubters going into the NBA draft

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Isaiah Collier has a message for doubters going into the NBA draft

NEW YORK – Former USC guard Isaiah Collier has a message for anyone doubting him and former teammate Bronny James, the son of NBA star LeBron James. The former Trojans are going to prove their naysayers wrong in the NBA.

“The NBA is going to be great for him,” Collier said of Bronny James during the NBA pre-draft camp in Chicago on May 12. “People haven’t seen as much as what we’ve seen as a team. He’s going to be a great player. Little that people know, he’s really good …

“I’m going into every workout with a chip on my shoulder. A lot of things didn’t go the way I wanted them to go. There is a purpose to it. I feel like I’m still going to showcase that I’m that guy.”

In 2023, Collier was ranked as the No. 1 high school player in the country in the ESPN 100. The five-star recruit was co-MVP of the 2023 McDonald’s All American game after scoring a game-high 25 points and was also the consensus boys national High School Player of the Year (Naismith, Gatorade, Georgia and MaxPreps). The Marietta, Georgia, native was listed as the fourth-best prospect in ESPN’s 2024 NBA mock draft a day after Victor Wembanyama was selected No. 1 overall in the 2023 NBA draft.

The future seemed bright for Collier after he signed with USC along with three other four-star prospects (Bronny James, Arrinten Page and Brandon Gardner). Collier averaged 16.3 points, 4.3 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting 33.8% from 3-point range for the Trojans. He also missed games in January with a fractured hand. USC didn’t make the NCAA tournament after finishing last season with a 15-18 record.

Wheeler High School (Georgia) guard Isaiah Collier (left) is guarded by Sierra Canyon High School (California) guard Bronny James (right) during a game between Sierra Canyon and Wheeler in The Chosen-1’s Invitational at Galen Center on Jan. 7, 2023, in Los Angeles.

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After the season ended, Trojans coach Andy Enfield left for Southern Methodist University and was replaced with Arkansas coach Eric Musselman. Collier and Bronny James entered their names in the 2024 NBA draft, foregoing their final three college seasons.

“The most challenging part of this was definitely losing,” Collier said. “Nobody wants to lose. But we learned a lot from it, especially when I got hurt. I sat down and improved as a player later on in the season. It definitely helped me a lot, too.

“College was definitely hard. I learned a lot. I had to learn a different kind of game. I’m just trying to move up on to the next level. I know it’s going to be even harder.”

The Trojans listed Collier at 6-feet-5 and 210 pounds on their roster, but at the NBA pre-draft camp, he measured 6-2.5 without shoes, 204 pounds, had a 6-4.75-foot wingspan and a maximum vertical jump of 34 inches. One NBA scout told Andscape that those measurements and shooting questions affected Collier’s draft status. He worked out for eight NBA teams and also turned down several workouts, a source said.

A motivated Collier had one clear motive entering his draft workouts.

“I want to show everyone that I’m the best guard in this draft class,” he said. “I’m taking it day by day. Keep working. Going in there in high-level shape and showcasing what I do.”

One NBA scout told Andscape that with an improved jump shot, Collier has the ability to be “a really good pro.” The NBA scout also said he became “a believer” in Collier’s work ethic when he came back in better shape and with improved game after his hand injury and because he didn’t shut his season down for the draft.

“If he could shoot, he’d be a top-5 pick. You’re betting on him on being a worker, which he is going to be,” the NBA scout told Andscape. “Everybody talks about his [great] work ethic. If he continues to come in and works and works on his shooting, he is going to be a really good pro. He can get into the paint with the best of them. He passes the ball all over the floor. He’s unselfish. He can get into the paint and throw floaters and finish. But it’s the shooting thing. In the league, people are going to back off of him. And he won’t be able to drive and get to the rim easily. Plus, his size, he’s not as big as everyone thought.

“But I like him. If you look at history, he won three straight championships in high school and started all four years. He’s used to being the guy. He’s used to having the target on his back. He will be fine in this league with all of the space they play with, [where you] can’t hand check. He’ll be fine and be able to be a good player. He just has to develop his shot. And it’s not like his shot is broken. He’s a willing shooter. He will take the shots he’s supposed to take.”

USC guard Isaiah Collier reacts to his shot in the second half against Stanford at Galen Center on Jan. 6 in Los Angeles.

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ESPN NBA draft analyst Jonathan Givony listed Collier as the 23rd-best NBA draft prospect June 21. Carter was invited to the NBA draft media availability Tuesday and the green room at the first round of the draft Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN/ESPN+) at Barclays Center. Through adversity, Collier says he has grown as a player and a person and also has perspective. He said that he faces another challenge going into an NBA locker room as a point guard at 19 years old.

“There have been a couple challenges that I’ve faced,” Collie.r said. “It’s always a learning process for me. Maybe it was a good thing that I went through with it. I can improve on it later on. I’m just taking it day by day in my career.”

Through his connection with Bronny James, Collier was able to get time and words of wisdom from star Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James that he truly cherishes. Collier said he met LeBron James for the first time when playing with Bronny James at the 2023 Nike Hoop Summit. Collier said LeBron James has been his biggest mentor in the NBA.

“It’s vibes just talking to him,” Collier said. “He told me to enjoy the process. It’s hard to make it even this far in your career.

“I’ve talked to LeBron a couple of times. He has definitely been a great resource for me. He is one of the greats — in my opinion, the greatest of all-time. It was crazy surreal to have met him. I’m blessed to be in this situation and I’m taking advantage of every moment.”

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