Basketball has always had a place in Nijah Collier’s heart.
At an early age, Collier’s father regularly took him to play at local parks around town. Whether hooping outside or on an indoor court, he and his dad found a way to play which sparked his initial passion for the sport.
Years later, Collier turned that passion into a successful varsity-level debut in 2019, playing a key role in helping the Lehman boys basketball team complete a record-setting 17-win campaign.
Collier, measured in at 6-feet 3-inches and 190 pounds, stood out on the hardwood floor during his sophomore season with highlights from leaping over opponents for rebounds, to throwing down monster two-handed dunks.
“It was amazing honestly,” Collier said. “Everything was kind of new, it took a while to get used to going from playing freshman basketball to starting on varsity. Luckily I was with a great group of guys and a great coach. They all helped me a lot throughout the year.”
Although Collier played a lot of basketball in middle school, it wasn’t until seventh grade that he played with a team. It was at that same time Collier grew eight inches, going from 5-feet, 4-inches to 6 feet tall. Collier said he has always been one of the tallest kids in his class, but the growth spurt aided in his development as a post player in junior high.
He continued that progression becoming a power forward for the Lobos in 2019. For Collier, the biggest transition from playing freshman ball to starting on varsity was the pace of the game with the older players, as well as playing against players nearly half a foot taller than he.
“I’ve been playing the five (post position) really my whole entire life,” said Collier. “So going to varsity and most post players are like 6’9’ or 6’7” or taller, so I had to adjust to not only being able to jump with them, but being faster and having to dribble the ball more.”
Collier’s standout play earned him multiple invites to basketball camps this summer to show off his skill set to a plethora of college coaches from around the country. Some of the camps Collier was invited to that he hopes to attend are Dallas Baptist University, Northeastern State University, University of Texas-Permian Basin, Brown College, and the Centennial State Grandstand.
In addition to attending camps he is also playing with Stat Pro, a central Texas select basketball team, as they travel to play in multiple tournaments across the state. His main focus this summer is to improve his all-around game and to become a dynamic weapon on both offense and defense.
“Basically, I want to add on to what I did this year,” Collier said about what he wants to improve on. “The rebounds, I want that to go up, I had quite a few this season. But as far as getting assists or free throw percentage, points coming up, or being able to shoot more from the field. Being a threat on offense and on defense too.”
When Collier isn’t on the court he is studying the game of some of his favorite NBA superstars. Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant and LeBron James are the players Collier likes to model his game after, admiring Duncan and Durant’s mid-range game and James’ will to power his way through the lane and finish.
With a breakout season on the horizon Collier is not only focused on his personal goals, but also the goals he set with his teammates.
“Personally I’m looking to have a great season,” said Collier. “Go as far as we can in the year. Hopefully playoffs, that’s definitely always the goal. Try to go as far as we can with that.”