Collins making most of whirlwind offseason

Posted 7/16/20

Jay Collins hasn’t coached since late February, and he won’t coach in a game setting until January.

But in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Northwest College men’s …

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Collins making most of whirlwind offseason

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Jay Collins hasn’t coached since late February, and he won’t coach in a game setting until January.

But in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Northwest College men’s basketball head coach is excited to have basketball on the horizon.

The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) announced Monday that all fall and winter sports will be moved to the second, spring semester. Men’s and women’s basketball were slated to start earlier in the fall, around mid-October, but due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, the NJCAA decided to push back the start.

Basketball teams are allowed 60 consecutive days in the fall for practices and scrimmages. Spring practices are permitted to begin on Jan. 11, with competition permitted to begin on Jan. 22. Instead of full schedules, teams will only play 22 regular-season games.

While shortened and delayed, having a set plan for the season is thrilling news for the second-year Trappers head coach.

“It’s way different, but we’ll be excited to play, even if it is only 22 games,” Collins said. “We’ve grown up in a system, and now we’re given a whole different timeline. It will be an adjustment for everybody.”

Though the season won’t start until next year, that hasn’t slowed Collins down on the recruiting trail. Most recently, he’s added two players to his 2020 class: Jurdon Petty and Jaren Fritz.

A 6-foot guard, Petty has experience playing against tough opponents, originally hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

“There’s a level of toughness to him,” Collins said. “He played against high competition in high school, so I know he won’t struggle against some of the big programs like Casper [College].”

Fritz is one of several athletes from Sheridan College who had to find a new home when the Northern Wyoming Community College District announced the folding of nearly all of its athletic programs. In 19 games with the Generals last year, Fritz averaged 3.0 points per game and shot nearly 40% from 3-point range.

Between his on-court abilities and leadership skills, Fritz could immediately be a positive force for the Trappers, according to Collins.

“We’ve been told he was one of their best culture kids,” the coach said. “He’s a phenomenal human being, and he has the ability to work hard and model correct behavior for his teammates.”

With the additions of Petty and Fritz, NWC has signed six athletes to its 2020 class. The others include Andrea Loigu and Karl Gustav Paloots from Tallinn, Estonia; Donovan Rodriguez from Philadelphia and Bryson Stephens from Centennial, Colorado.

In addition to his work on the recruiting trail, Collins is also preparing to coach at the Powell Panthers Boys’ Basketball Camp from July 27-30.

When Collins arrived in Powell last August, he didn’t have much time to immerse himself into the community. Assuming the camp goes on as planned, he hopes it’s a chance to assimilate with PHS students and other locals.

“Hopefully this helps me build a relationship with the high school and the town,” Collins said. “I’m looking forward to doing something for the community.”

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