TAMPA ― A team in need of every uplifting story line it can muster found one over the weekend, courtesy of its resident heart and soul.
With 18 points in Sunday’s 78-71 loss at Connecticut, junior David Collins supplanted Victor Rudd for 10th place on the school’s career scoring list.
More supplanting is sure to follow by season’s end. Collins enters Wednesday’s home game against East Carolina (7 p.m., ESPN3) with 1,220 points. Center Hakim Shahid is ninth on the list (1,252); all-Metro Conference forward Gary Alexander is eighth (1,272).
“Just an incredible accomplishment when you look at where he started,” said Bulls coach Brian Gregory, whose club (11-16, 4-10 American Athletic Conference) tries to snap a four-game skid Wednesday.
“His first game (against FAU in 2017), he played I think nine or 10 minutes (actually six) and scored two points. Didn’t crack into the starting lineup until probably the midpoint of the season as a freshman.
“But just has constantly gotten better. Even with all the accomplishments that he’s had, I still think there’s a lot of room for improvement, and I think you’re gonna see his best basketball going forward.”
Presuming he remains healthy and keeps scoring at his current average (14.0 points), Collins has a plausible shot at finishing as one of the Bulls’ top five scorers. Dominique Jones (1,797) currently is fifth.
Robinson High alumnus Charlie Bradley, a three-time first-team all-Sun Belt pick during his prosperous career (1981-85), has held the school’s scoring title (2,319) nearly 40 years.
Bulls to recognize Black History Month
To celebrate Black History Month, the Bulls ― in alliance with apparel partner adidas ― will wear shoes and warmup shirts Wednesday bearing logos celebrating the Tuskegee Airmen.
The first African-Americans to serve as U.S. military pilots, the Airmen flew nearly 1,600 combat missions during World War II, when African-Americans in many states still were subject to Jim Crow laws. The group also included Caribbean-born pilots.
“It’s just a great opportunity for our guys,” Gregory said, “during this very important month, to honor what they did not only for this country, but just in terms of understanding the importance of what they did on a daily basis and the sacrifices that they made.”