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Thunder basketball: For Collison, father knew best

BY MIKE BALDWIN Published: March 22, 2009
was actually right-handed, just adept at dribbling with both hands.

"Part of that is he always was the best ball-handler on his team,” Dave said. "That really helped him. He saw the floor so well. He wasn’t a great shooter by any means when he was younger. But he knew how to play, which helped him when he started to shoot up.”

His development also included rapid growth spurts. In the seventh grade he was a 5-foot-8 point guard.

Over the next four years, Collison grew a foot. He was 6-foot-1 in the eighth grade, 6-4 as a freshman, 6-7 as a sophomore and 6-9 as a junior.

"We forced him to run track in junior high and as a freshman to help with his coordination,” Dave said. "That’s why when he hit those growth spurts it didn’t hurt him too much. But back then they wore those really short shorts. He was all arms and legs. It was kind of funny to watch.”

It paid dividends, leading to a memorable run when the family moved to Iowa Falls.

During Nick’s three-year high school career, father, son and teammates went on a 74-1 run.

For a school with graduating classes between 80 to 90, the Cadets were loaded. Besides Collison, Michael Lindeman was a two-year starter at Creighton. Prentice Lofstedt played baseball at Creighton.

The smallest school in Class 3A their sophomore year, the only loss of their careers was a 48-45 heart-breaker in the first round at the state tournament. The following two seasons Iowa Falls rolled to back-to-back, 26-0 Class 2A state titles.

"All those kids were very good athletes,” Dave said. "It was a privilege to coach those teams. Nick still stays in contact with some of those guys.”

Dad rarely offers advice anymore. He watches most Thunder games on satellite. He now offers compliments rather than instruction. But he swells with pride when Brooks and others rave about his son’s intangibles.

"I really enjoy hearing that,” Dave said. "He’s always been strong fundamentally. He loved to practice. Once I showed him the fundamentals, starting as a kid, he really worked hard at those things.”

They just don’t always show up on a stat sheet.