Where will Daimion Collins fit into Kentucky’s roster next season?


Kentucky Wildcats forward Daimion Collins (4) secures a rebound during the University of Kentucky vs. High Point basketball game on Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jackson Dunavant | Staff

Hunter Shelton

With the transfer portal taking over the world of college basketball, no coach can be certain about what their roster will look like between the end of one season and the beginning of another.

Luckily for John Calipari, the first piece to his 2022-23 roster has been revealed, just a few days removed from the end of Kentucky’s season. 

Daimion Collins, a five-star prospect from Atlanta, Texas, will return to Lexington for his sophomore season, according to Travis Branham of 247Sports

In his freshman season at Kentucky, Collins appeared in 27 games, averaging 2.9 points and a pair of rebounds per game. 

Playing time became sparse for the forward once SEC play began. In UK’s first 11 games of the season, he saw double-digit minutes on six occasions. In his final 16 appearances, Collins played more than five minutes just four times. 

He scored 10 or more points three times in the 2021-22 season, highlighted by a 10-point outing against Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Feb. 5. Calipari made it known throughout the season that Collins was someone he wanted to get more reps as the year progressed, but that never came to fruition. 

The 6-foot-9 frame gave Big Blue Nation immediate hope that he would become an integral part of Kentucky’s rotation. As Oscar Tshiebwe morphed into a National Player of the Year candidate, minutes down low were limited, and Calipari normally opted for the experience of Lance Ware to fill the backup role. 

After mammoth dunks against the likes of Robert Morris pointed towards another diaper dandy in blue and white, BBN never got to see any progression in Collins’ first season in the Bluegrass. 

So where does the soon-to-be sophomore fit into next season’s roster? 

That’s a question fans likely won’t get the answer to anytime soon. 

There’s no denying the length and athleticism that Collins brings to the table. Even if it was in tiny spurts, when he was on the court it was obvious that the talent was there, it was just raw. 

An offseason under the tutelage of Calipari and UK’s coaching staff has worked wonders for many in the past, so there’s no reason to think otherwise with Collins. The one knock on the forward is his weight, as he checked in at just 202 pounds for his freshman season, not exactly filling out his tall frame. 

Whether we see a bulkier Collins or not next season, his playing time will likely hinge on who returns to UK and what magic Calipari can work in the transfer portal. 

All eyes are obviously on Tshiebwe, as with the development of NIL and unequivocal love from the Kentucky faithful, the jump to the NBA is not as certain as people may have thought a few months ago. 

If the First Team All-American decides to return to Lexington, any and all forwards will once again take a backseat, meaning another year of progression in practice for Collins. 

The future of Lance Ware is thought to be up in the air, as an opportunity to play more minutes elsewhere could entice him to test the waters in the portal for his junior season. The same could be said for forward Keion Brooks Jr, who has now completed three seasons at Kentucky. 

Five-star prospect Chris Livingston is sure to make an immediate splash upon his arrival for his freshman season. Toss in forward Jacob Toppin, and there likely won’t be much wiggle room for Calipari in the paint next year, even before he dabbles in the transfer portal. 

Utah Valley center Fardaws Aimaq highlights the plentiful options in the portal, as he was the sole player in the nation to statistically out-rebound Tshiebwe, totaling 27 double-doubles of his own. 

For Collins, competition will be stiff. If Calipari plucks a big man or two during the offseason, there’s no guarantee that he’ll see the floor for anymore time than he did in his freshman year. If opportunity strikes and he’s given more time on the court, don’t be surprised to see a lengthy highlight reel of Collins punishing rims on a weekly basis, even mixed in with a jumpshot here or there. 

With Kentucky’s roster nowhere close to taking shape for next season, Collins’ return is a hopeful one for both Calipari and BBN. With many dominoes yet to fall, however, it remains unclear if his decision will result in an uptick in minutes, or another season filled with nothing more than the occasional burst of excitement.