So far in the Land-Grant Holy Land player preview series, it's focused on the elders of the Ohio State women’s basketball team. Now, it's time to look at someone on the opposite end of their NCAA basketball career. Freshman Diana Collins joins the Buckeyes at a time when all but one predicted starter is an upperclassman, with five players receiving regular minutes playing in their final season.
Where does Collins fit into the mix and is getting the guard minutes this season important for the 24-25 season and beyond?
Name: Diana Collins
High School: Brookwood High School (Snellville, Georgia)
2022-23 Stats: N/A
Collins was in high school last season, leading the Brookwood Broncos to a Georgia 7A state title. The four-year guard not only lifted a trophy at the end of that level of her amateur career but picked up personal accolades along the way.
The freshman broke single-season scoring records in every year at Brookwood, culminating in earning a school record for career points that lasted for 40 years. It wasn’t only high school where Collins excelled but in international play.
Representing Sweden, Collins missed the Buckeyes trip to Brazil for a journey to Lithuania for the 2023 U20 Women’s European Championship. The guard played in all seven games, averaging 16.0 points, 2.7 steals and 2.4 rebounds. That was good enough to lead Sweden in scoring and third in rebounding.
What to Expect
Collins joins a team where getting regular minutes is going to be tough. With guards Jacy Sheldon, Celeste Taylor, and Rikki Harris the likely starters, with Madison Greene likely returning from injury later in 2023, Collins has the opportunity to learn from practicing with this great group of guards and watch from the bench.
Right now, the freshman is saying all the right things, letting the media know at the end of September that she’s with the Buckeyes to do whatever they need her to do.
On the court, Collins’ offensive prowess looks a lot like Sheldon's. The guard uses what feels like a magnetic pull to the basket with impressive runs into the paint that turn into impressive layups. That’s at the high school level, with the NCAA having heightened physicality.
Even so, Collins can also turn those runs into quick stops, mid-range shots, and running jumpers. A move that fans have seen often with former shooting guard Taylor Mikesell. Collins can also hit a three-pointer, a hole in Ohio State’s offense this year created by the departure of Mikesell.
Defensively, the Georgia native has that same pressing ability that head coach Kevin McGuff likes to see in his guard play. Collins’ 2.7 steals per game at the U20 European Championship was third best in the tournament, behind two stars playing professionally in Europe.
Over the past few seasons, McGuff isn’t known for playing many freshmen but having Collins, and sophomore Kaia Henderson, more involved in games will pay off next year and beyond. After this season, Sheldon and Taylor are gone. Harris and Greene are redshirt seniors following early-career injuries, giving them one more year if they choose to use it.
The more Collins sees the court this year, the lesser the blow for future Buckeye teams, and there’s precedence for receiving more minutes. Look no further than sophomore teammate Cotie McMahon.
McMahon, the outstanding forward who caught national attention with a Big Ten Freshman of the Year season and highlight performance against UConn in the Sweet Sixteen, started for McGuff from the jump in her freshman year. The reason? McMahon’s international play.
Collins has that extra international experience that not all freshmen bring into the NCAA. On a team with European professionals and NCAA athletes put the 2023 freshman ahead of the learning curve.
Even with the future in mind, don’t expect to see Collins in close games against the USCs, UCLAs, and Iowas of the world. However, there are ample opportunities against non-conference opponents to give the point guard NCAA reps.
The more early season minutes for Collins, the more likely it is to see her in important moments later in the season. Similar to the trajectory of junior forward/guard Taylor Thierry who didn’t see much action at the start of her freshman season, but slowly earned minutes in crucial parts of games. Then, in Thierry’s sophomore season, she started every game for the Buckeyes.
Now, Collins and Thierry are different players, but what Collins has shown is the same level of ability and talent, just focused on different competencies.
Watch Collins play a lot like Sheldon on the offensive side of the ball. The freshman attacks the basket and hits shots from midrange and beyond. Below is from the 2023 Georgia 7A title game where Collins helped Brookwood win the state championship.
Ohio State signee Diana Collins with 21 points, six rebounds, and two assists on 7-10 FG to help win the Georgia 7A title for Brookwood.— Hunter Cruse (@HunterCruse14) March 12, 2023
The Buckeyes will have such a fun guard/wing core with Cotie McMahon, Taylor Thierry, Madison Greene, and Collins. pic.twitter.com/NRuwhyh6a3
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