How coming from military family prepared John Collins for NBA

Meet Hawks draft pick John Collins

Before high school, John Collins was well traveled. 

He was born in Layton, Utah. But with his father, John Collins Jr., and mother, Lyria, both in the military, Collins grew up all over the world.

His father was in the Navy and his mother in the Air Force. They would move to Guam, then spend time in Turkey. They reached U.S. territory living in the Virgin Islands. Next, they made it back to the States in Washington until finally moving to Florida. West Palm Beach is where Collins considers home.

Collins found the game of basketball while abroad, and while moving from place to place as a child developed him as a person, it also had an effect on his basketball skills.

"Growing up in different places obviously gave me different perspective, different cultures, how different people act. I think it just helped me socially on how to act with different people," Collins told 11Alive after getting drafted to the Atlanta Hawks No. 19 overall on Thursday.

"And I think it just helps me socially to interact with people, and I think it helps me on the court being able to help me talk to guys that you’re not necessarily too comfortable with. I think it’s translated into being communicative, helping other guys on the court," he added.

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That's got to be music to head coach Mike Budenholzer's ears. His mantra is team basketball and sharing the ball. That starts with communication. The big man is a good scorer in the paint. He can finish plays and grab boards. He's trying to extend his jump shot as the game continues to value big men who can shoot more and more. 

He only averaged a half of an assist at Wake Forest while averaging 19.2 points per game and 9.8 rebounds. But Collins is looking forward to beginning a dialogue with Budenholzer and adapting to the Hawks' style. Communicating with any coach has never been an issue.

"I think my game can fit in any coach’s coaching style. So I think coming there, the way I play the game, is formidable enough, flexible enough to mesh with any coaches coaching style," Collins said.

Travis Schlenk, the Hawks' new general manager, mentioned Collins coming from a military background and how it's helped him have strong family values. 


With Collins falling to No. 19, lower than the Hawks and many had on their boards, the Hawks snatched him up considering the improvement he made between his freshman and sophomore seasons.

"Last year, you saw his athleticism and then the big jump that he’s made from his freshman year to his sophomore year. Obviously being the most improved player in the ACC, you see the growth he’s made, and he’s still a 19-year-old kid," Schlenk said.

Collins called it a combination of opportunity, luck and preparation. But as he now moves to yet again another city, he's driven to work and contribute to a team that's trying to take the next step and be competitive with the emerging super teams around the league.

"There’s a winning culture that goes with being an Atlanta Hawk," Collins said. "The playoffs is a normality for you guys. It will be big time for me to come as a young guy and grip some of that winning culture."

PHOTOS | Hawks draft John Collins from Wake Forrest

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