Q&A: Former UCLA guard Darren Collison reflects on his NBA career

Darren Collison scrambles for a loose ball against Memphis' Antonio Anderson during UCLA's 78-63 loss in the 2008 Final Four. (Eric Gay/AP)

Darren Collison scrambles for a loose ball against Memphis’ Antonio Anderson during UCLA’s 78-63 loss in the 2008 Final Four. (Eric Gay/AP)

Four-year stars are rare in today’s college basketball landscape, which makes Darren Collison’s career seem like it belongs in a time capsule. The former UCLA point guard was the last Bruin to be taken in the NBA draft after exhausting his college eligibility, going 21st overall in 2009.

Now entering his seventh season as a pro, Collison took some time to talk about his NBA career, the growth of his youth basketball camp, and his thoughts on the state of UCLA men’s basketball.

Q: You’ve spent a lot of your career as a backup and journeyman. What did it mean for your career to sign a three-year contract with the Sacramento Kings and have a chance to be a starter?

It was a big step in my career. We all talk about stability, whether you’re working in the real world or you’re playing sports. I think stability was a part of my success this past season, because you kind of know where you’re going to be, you know who the coach is going to be, you know who your teammates are.

Q: The last time you had started full-time was with the Indiana Pacers. What was the difference in doing so again three years later?

I’m more confident than I was when I was in Indiana. I was still figuring out my way around (back then). I was ready to go (this time). I was ready to show the league that i was more than capable of starting. Not just starting, but being an above-average starter.

Q: You averaged a career-high 16.1 points as well as 5.6 assists before your injury. Do you feel like you proved people wrong?

Without a doubt, but at the same time, I knew my capability. People only came to that conclusion (that I couldn’t) because I’d been coming off the bench for a year and a half. They didn’t really do their research as to why I was coming off the bench. I knew I could start for any team. … I didn’t really care what team. Continue reading

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Alumni Q&A: Darren Collison looks back on first season with Clippers

Since helping UCLA to three straight Final Fours, Darren Collison has embarked on what is turning into a bit of a journeyman’s career. He’s played for four teams in five seasons, and transitioned from being a starter in Indiana to a capable backup in Dallas and Los Angeles.

But even though he’ll be a free agent again this summer — opting out of $1.9 million — he insists he wants to stay in his hometown.

Collison talked a bit this week about his first season with the Clippers, the current state of UCLA basketball, as well as his basketball camp for middle schoolers starting June 23.

How did your first season with the Clippers go?

I think as far as the team, we expected to go deeper. We expected to win it all. That didn’t quite go well. It’s stuck with us even now. I think it’s going to be a motivating factor even now. we understood the road that we came from. we felt like we were right there.

My intention is to stick with the Clippers. They’re a good team. Good teams like San Antonio and Miami have stuck with the same core. I’d love to stay for three to four years, but there has to be a mutual agreement.

How does this summer of free agency for you compare to last year’s?

Last year, it was just putting myself in a position where I could find myself again as a player mentally. I’ve been through a lot. The previous season with Dallas, I still had a good season, but mentally I just felt like I needed to be a part of a team that was going to try to win it all. That was my intention. To try and be a part of a team that was going to win a championship.

This year, it’s pretty much the same thing. It’s just my value went up. I understand that. But I don’t want it to affect my decision with the Clippers. Continue reading

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Q&A: Darren Collison talks NBA, the UCLA coaching change and his favorite college memory

Since leaving UCLA as a three-time all-conference point guard, Darren Collison has carved out what looks to be a promising pro career. Now 25, the former Bruin made the All-Rookie team in 2010 after the New Orleans Hornets drafted him 21st overall, and is a restricted free agent after averaging 12 points and 5.1 assists in his fourth season.

He returned to the Los Angeles area recently, where he’s been busy with interviews as well as preparing his youth basketball camp. I talked to him this week about his season with the Dallas Mavericks, his thoughts on Ben Howland and Steve Alford, as well as a UCLA flashback.

Q: What have you been up to this summer?

I’ve just been chillin’ at my parents house in the Inland Empire. I actually started working out a little bit earlier than usual. I watch every (playoff) game. Every game. I told myself that I wouldn’t, because we didn’t make the playoffs, but I’ve been glued to that TV. Oh yeah, by far. I realized how tough it is. I missed the playoffs my first year, but after being in the playoffs my next two years, it made me miss it.

Q: What was your favorite series?

My favorite series would definitely be the Warriors and San Antonio. Or Warriors and Denver. The Warriors were just an incredible team in the playoffs. I definitely had fun watching them.

Q: What was your first year in Dallas like after playing in Indiana? Continue reading

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