Collison Working On Jump Shot, Reuniting With Old Friends This Summer

On Nick Collison’s plate for the Fourth of July weekend: head back home to Iowa to be with friends and family, then catch up with his high school graduating class of about 70 people for their 10-year reunion.

Like most of his teammates, Collison has been a traveling man this summer.

The Thunder forward has spent a bulk of it in Seattle, where he’s worked out with former and current NBA players. But he’s also been to Las Vegas, New York and Oklahoma City.

We caught up with Collison when he in town to meet the Thunder’s trio of draft picks.

How many people do you keep in touch with from high school?
“Quite a few. There’s a group of probably eight to 10 of us that still keep in touch. I’m back home a lot. My folks still live there and a lot of people are still around town, so I see a lot of people.”

So an NBA player heads back to his high school reunion…what will the reception be like?
“You know it’s crazy because it’s so small where I come from that I knew everybody for so long before, that I’ve known them during and after, that everybody treats me the same. It’s really fun to go back.”

How big was your graduating class?
“About 70. We’re the only school in town. It’s not like a small private school or anything. It’s everybody. Iowa Falls High School. We were a small class for our school, but it’s usually about 70 to 100.”

You make your off-season home in Seattle. What have you been up to?
“Just hanging out, enjoying the weather. It’s been great there. Spend time with the family. I started working out a couple of weeks ago. I usually take a month, a month and a half of not doing anything, kind of recover. I started at it a little bit. I’m just getting out on the water a little bit. The weather is really good there in the summer. It’s a good spot.”

Have you vacationed outside the country?
“No, not yet. I went to New York with a couple of friends. Other than that, I went to the Player Association meetings in Vegas the other week.”

What were some of the things that were discussed out there?
“You meet, talk about different things. Collective Bargaining is going to be coming up in a couple of years, so there’s some issues with that. There’s some different programs you can do, kind of life-after-basketball, internships, or you can go to take a business class. Or there’s coaching for the top 100 camp for high school kids and they have a coaching clinic, so if guys are interested in coaching you can go there. They really have some good stuff. This year there was only one day of meetings. Last year it was two or three days. I’m the player rep but anybody in the league can go. I think the idea of a player rep was to try to make sure you get one guy from each team there to tell the rest of the guys kind of what’s going on.”

Who are you working out with?
“I work out with (former NBA player) Detlef Schrempf. He’s in Seattle. He’s kind of working me out, putting me through some stuff. (Sacramento Kings forward) Spencer Hawes has been in there most days. Jon Brockman, who just got drafted, has been there. There’s a lot of other pros – Jamal Crawford – guys coming in and out, guys who start later in the summer. It’s been good. I’ve been working out at the University of Washington, they’ve been really helpful letting me use the facilities. It’s been really good.”

What have you been focusing on?
“I really want to work on my jump shot, kind of the balance of my jump shot. I feel that last year I didn’t shoot the ball as well as I would have wanted, so it’s something I’m really focusing on. I’m always working on my body and strength. Kind of everything. We play a lot of 1-on-1 and different basketball stuff. It’s pretty basic. Just making sure I’m on balance. It’s more repetition than anything. But in the summer it’s good to have someone there that can remind you that you don’t want to let things slip, so every shot you want to be a safe shot.”

What other strength exercises have you done?
“Between (Thunder director of athletic performance) Dwight Daub and my strength coach from college, who’s at North Carolina now, we’ve had a program we’ve done the last three or four years. It’s basically the same thing I’ve done at college. I got away from it my first few years in the league but I still lifted. So a few summers ago I went back and started to do all the stuff I used to do at college and it’s helped a lot. There’s certain aspects but you won’t see me do anything crazy. But I work really hard. We try to really get my hips strong, because we feel that it’s the most important thing you can do. Because if your hips aren’t strong it affects your whole body.”

What are your impressions of the rookies?
“I’m impressed. They’ve got good attitudes, they’re working hard. They’re like anybody else. They’re going to come in and learn how to play, but their talent level is really good. The first day I was impressed. I was really impressed with B.J. I don’t know much about him but he can really shoot the ball. He has a nice touch. And he’s big. I think that was a really good pick up. And Robert (Vaden) can really shoot the ball, too. I knew nothing about him but he really shot the ball well yesterday. But it’s just a long haul. You’re not going to figure it out in a day or a week or a summer league. But I think they got a good start and the team, the organization, in talking to people are really happy with the draft. And that’s a good sign because they’re smart guys. They do a good job.”

Contact Chris Silva