(PHOTO: spokesman.com; STORY: gozags.com)
Freshman center Zach Collins has declared for the NBA Draft, he announced Tuesday. He is exploring his options without hiring an agent at this time, but intends to hire an agent at a later date.
"This was a significant decision for my family and me," Collins said. "It was definitely one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make. I just want to thank everyone at Gonzaga, especially the coaching staff and my teammates. This season was special and something I will never forget. It was the most fun year of my life. I want to thank all of the Zag fans for all of their support and passion. I'll always be proud to be a Zag."
Collins averaged 10.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game during the 2016-17 season. He made 65.2 percent of his shots from the field, which ranks as the third best percentage in a single season in program history. It not only topped the West Coast Conference, but also ranked eighth in the country. His 69 blocked shots (1.8 per game) ranks second at GU all-time, one shy of matching Austin Daye's program record.
Collins was named Second Team All-West Coast Conference and to the WCC's All-Freshman Team after averaging 10.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks (2nd in the WCC) per game during conference play. He made 60.4 percent of his shots from the field in WCC action, which ranked third in the league, while his 78.1 percent shooting from the free-throw line during conference play ranked seventh.
Collins reached double-digit scoring 20 times during the 2016-17 season. He scored a season-high 21 points versus South Dakota, going a perfect 9-for-9 from the field in the win. He recorded his lone collegiate double-double in the Bulldogs' national semifinal victory over South Carolina, scoring 14 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. He also blocked six of the Gamecocks' shots.
A Second Team NABC All-District selection, Collins ended his fantastic freshman season helping the Zags reach the program's first-ever Final Four. At the Final Four, he was named to the All-Tournament Team after averaging 11.5 points and 10 rebounds in the two games in Phoenix, Ariz. He made 10 of his 16 shots (62.5 percent) from the field and added a total of nine blocked shots in the pair of games inside University of Phoenix Stadium.
Collins was the first-ever McDonald's All-American to commit to Gonzaga after a stellar career at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas.