Where will Wake Forest turn if John Collins declares for the NBA Draft?

All eyes around Wake Forest’s basketball program are on sophomore center John Collins these days.

That’s not just because he’s playing so well, but because everyone is watching to find out how much longer he’ll be around.

Collins has been on a tear for the last five weeks, and he continues to move up in mock NBA drafts.

His rise to national prominence has been shocking. While Collins played well through the nonconference schedule, he started slowly in ACC action. In the first five league games, he averaged 12.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. At that point in early January, he was still barely on the NBA radar.

But Collins has dominated the ACC since then. In the last 10 games (heading into Wednesday’s matchup with Pitt), Collins has averaged 24.9 PPG and 10.9 RPG. First, he jumped into the mid-20s in mock drafts, and now he’s as high as 16th in some.

We’ve covered Collins’ weaknesses: lack of shooting range, foul trouble, poor passer. There’s also the fact that the NBA isn’t built around big men who don’t have shooting range. But NBA general managers likely will look past all of that: Collins won’t turn 20 until next fall, so they see a 6-10 agile player with time to improve in all of those areas.

How Collins has performed against some of the ACC’s better front courts might concern scouts. He had two points and three rebounds against FSU and six points and three rebounds versus UNC. How Collins performs against Louisville, which features three regulars who are 6-10 or taller, could carry a lot of weight.

It’s rare for players with such high draft stock to stick around. Assuming Collins leaves, where does Danny Manning turn for an inside presence?

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