The defining Nick Collison moment, for me, came in the 2003 Sweet 16. Facing Duke, Collison rattled off a 33 point, 19 rebound effort, outscoring and outrebounding Duke’s entire frontcourt by himself. He also had almost half of Kansas’ 69 points (nice).
Of course, Collison’s career is much more than that moment. He scored 2,097 points in his KU career, ranking 2nd all time. He also ranks in the top 5 in rebounds, and is one of three members of KU’s 2,000 point 1,000 rebound club.
Collison and Kirk Hinrich are forever etched in KU history together. Both from Iowa, Collison’s career was much less likely. From tiny Iowa Falls (population: approximately 5,000), Collison nonetheless became a McDonalds All-American and went on to have one of the best careers in Kansas history. When he was done at Kansas, he was the leading scorer in Big 12 history. He also was the 2003 National Player of the Year, Big 12 Player of the Year, and All-American.
Collison currently ranks 1st in the Big 12 in career win shares, and is 12th all time nationally. He also has nabbed the 2nd most rebounds in Big 12 history. Far from just a scorer, Collison led the Big 12 in blocks as a junior and has the 5th most blocks in Big 12 history.
But despite his consistent excellence, I can’t think about Collison’s career without thinking about the periodic transcendent games, such as when he put up 27 points and 24 rebounds against Texas in 2003, prompting a standing ovation from Dick Vitale.
Collison went to back-to-back Final Fours, including the 2003 title game. Collison had 19 points and a ridiculous 21 rebounds in that title game loss, almost willing the Jayhawks to victory. I am not a giant believer in clutch, but I do know one thing: if it was a big game, you could always count on Collison to show up.