And now, more than ever, this former Big 12 player of the year has become a fully tenured NBA professor. He will be sticking around to help the young Thunder matriculate at the School of Collison while donning a uniform himself.
Collison doesn't speak often, and few words are wasted when he does.
Observe the next time Collison enters a game or emerges from a team huddle. He will make eye contact with at least one teammate and share a few words on what to do and where to go.
The pupil, usually 21-year-old Serge Ibaka or another young frontline player, (hopefully) will nod that he understands.
When Collison is in a game, there's a very good chance he's the smartest guy on the court.
â€œOh, he is,â€ All-Star Kevin Durant said without hesitation.
Professor Collison shakes his head at the thought.
â€œI don't think of it in those terms,â€ Collison said. â€œI think I have a good feel for the game. I make some stupid mistakes sometimes myself, but I feel I've had a good feel for what the team needs to get done â€“ where to be, angles defensively, anticipation, things like that.â€
The 6-foot-10, 255-pound Collison is a power forward, right up until the time you tell him to go defend a 7-foot center.
Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo! Sports had Thunder starter Nenad Krstic ranked No. 22 among NBA centers going into this season, and had Collison at No. 21.
â€œHe's a big part of the reason why we've had some recent success,â€ Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. â€œHe's top-notch, as competitive as they come.â€
Collison's father, Dave, was a longtime high school basketball coach and coached Nick for 11 years at Saint Edmond Catholic in Fort Dodge, Iowa. As a first grader, Nick became a fixture at his father's practices.
Nothing makes Dave Collison glow more than hearing a coach or teammate bragging about his son's intangibles. Then again, that's what Nick Collison is all about. He knows no other way.
â€œI think teams see value in me as a teammate,â€ Collison said. â€œIt's allowed me to stick around longer than maybe I would have if I wasn't (the way I am). I think guys respect that.â€
John Rohde: 475-3099. John Rohde can be heard Monday-Friday from 6-7 p.m. on The Sports Animal Network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.Thunder Rumblings: Roy Williams brags about Nick Collison