Collins to con­tinue play­ing days at UAPB

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - By Tony Le­na­han tle­na­[email protected]­ton­courier.com

BRYANT – Bryant Hor­nets base­ball player Zion Collins will be con­tin­u­ing his ath­letic ca­reer for the Univer­sity of Arkansas - Pine Bluff Golden Lions af­ter sign­ing at Bryant

High School Wed­nes­day. Collins said he chose

UAPB, a Divi­sion I school, af­ter con­sid­er­ing Prairie View A&M, Univer­sity of Arkansas - Mon­ti­cello, Mis­sis­sippi Val­ley State and Delta State.

“It started at the be­gin­ning of the sum­mer,” Collins said of the re­cruit­ment process. “I started play­ing for a new sum­mer team, Max­i­mum Im­pact. As the sum­mer pro­gressed they even­tu­ally of­fered me and it kind of be­came my home. I feel like I just grew to it. I went on a lot of other vis­its and I just couldn’t find no other school that felt like UAPB.”

Collins went into de­tail of why the Golden Lions were the team for him.

“Just the coach­ing staff,” he said. “As soon as I got there they just wel­comed me with open arms. I got to meet the play­ers and work with them on the field and see how they did prac

tices. It just seemed like a big, friendly en­vi­ron­ment. Every­body loved each other. They worked hard, had fun, and that’s what I’m here to do.”

“Zion is a guy that has earned ev­ery­thing he’s got­ten,” Bryant Head Coach Travis Queck said. “He’s busted his hump and worked ex­tremely hard day in and day out on the ball field to put him­self in this sit­u­a­tion of play­ing at the next level. I do be­lieve his bet­ter days are ahead of him.”

Mov­ing to Bryant from Mon­ti­cello, Collins knew he wanted to play at the next level his fresh­man year to com­pete against the best com­pe­ti­tion in the na­tion.

“I ac­tu­ally came to Bryant be­cause Coach (Kirk) Bock was still the head coach and I saw they had one of the best base­ball pro­grams in the coun­try,” Collins said. “Me and my dad sat down one day and he said, ‘If you can com­pete with th­ese boys, you can com­pete with any­body in the coun­try.’”

Play­ing mostly mid­dle in­field through­out his ca­reer, Collins is very open to a move to third base to suit his strengths.

“Zion is go­ing to fig­ure some­where in the in­field,” Queck said. “Of­fen­sively he’s come a long way in a short pe­riod of time and that’s the ded­i­ca­tion be­tween he and his dad, and his de­ter­mi­na­tion to fix some flaws that he had.

“De­fen­sively, he did ex­actly what we needed him to do last year. We could see him mov­ing to third base a lit­tle bit. I hope he can take over short for us. If not, I know he can def­i­nitely do third and we would not skip a beat.”

But it’s on the mound where Collins may give the Hor­nets the most suc­cess.

“I think on the mound is where he’s go­ing to re­ally, re­ally light up,” Queck said. “He has a sneaky heavy fast­ball. He has a chance to add some velo(city) and the break­ing ball, this spring, he pitched off his break­ing ball and there wasn’t a bet­ter break­ing ball in the league. It al­lowed him and opened up a lot of doors, es­pe­cially how to at­tack hit­ters.”

“I’m very ag­gres­sive on the mound,” Collins added. “I want to get strike one, strike two, I hate get­ting be­hind in counts. Teams like Con­way and Cabot, you re­ally have to use your base­ball knowl­edge against teams like that. You can’t just go up there and throw 0-1 fast­balls down the mid­dle.”

Collins said he plans to ma­jor in busi­ness at UAPB.

“I’m go­ing to study busi­ness man­age­ment,” he said. “My dad ac­tu­ally owns a truck­ing com­pany and I kind of want to fol­low in be­hind him and start do­ing some things like that. My mom’s a re­al­tor, so they’re al­ready in man­age­ment positions and I like and un­der­stand what they do.”

As for the up­com­ing sea­son, Collins has high ex­pec­ta­tions.

“I’m ex­cited for my se­nior year,” he said. “I want Bryant to go un­de­feated. Con­grats to the foot­ball team (10-0), They’re do­ing an amaz­ing job and I want base­ball to pick up right where they’re leav­ing off and ev­ery other sport be­hind us.”

TONY LE­NA­HAN/THE Saline Courier

Bryant se­nior Zion Collins, cen­ter, signs to play base­ball at the Univer­sity of Arkansas - Pine Bluff Wed­nes­day at Bryant High School on Wed­nes­day.

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