TexPreps Basketball

UConn Commit Charli Collier Continues Elevating Her Game

By Kevin McPherson

At 6-5, Charli Collier doesn’t play like a traditional high school post player. Even greater, she has endured and experienced much more than the typical teenage athlete.

A three-year starter for Barbers Hill in Mont Belvieu, Collier survived the strenuous recruitment process, changing her mind about a pre-high school commitment to the University of Texas before finally settling on perennial power University of Connecticut last November. Five months later, Charli’s father, Elliott Don Collier, succumbed to a bout with cancer.

Oh, and there’s two defeats to rival Bryan Rudder in the finals of the 5A Region III tournament in her freshman and sophomore seasons. None of that has altered her path.

Her coach, Tri Danley, says she is an unlikely combination of physical and mental abilities. Collier has shown the ability to get better each season, is coachable, very intelligent, and a great teammate who “adjusts to her surroundings.” Danley predicts her future is “limitless” because she is “developing more guard-like skills.”

Collier spent most of June training for her final stint with her AAU team. With no need to impress scouts, she says she could focus on enjoying the game and savoring the rest of the summer.

“I get to improve myself and work on all skills. I wanted to focus on being versatile,”
she said.

Based on her campus visits and conversations with coaches and others, Collier believes the time management required of a college student-athlete, as well as the rigorous weight and diet programs at a Division I program, are expected to be the biggest adjustments. But her high school academic load, which included several Advanced Placement courses, should have her prepared for post-secondary classes. Eventually, Collier hopes to pursue a career in sports journalism or broadcasting—but not before her playing days are over.

The accolades for Collier have been deserved. After averaging 24 points and 10 rebounds per game in her past two seasons, she earned a spot on the USA Basketball U17 team that traveled to Spain and France after her sophomore season. After the 2016-17 season, she was named to the Naismith All-America team.

“Charli has become more physical, slendered up,” Danley noted. “During her freshman and sophomore seasons we kind of tried to fit her style, but she is versatile. She can shoot the three, which fits what we do. It was an adjustment the first two years.”
Ironically, Danley wasn’t eagerly anticipating Collier’s arrival back in 2014. “I really didn’t have any idea about her before she came to high school,” he said. “But, her mother is a (math) teacher on our campus and Charli came to us the summer before her freshman year when we had open gym. I knew right away she was obviously different than anyone else.”

Nonetheless, her senior season with the Eagles remains the immediate focus.

Another undefeated district season and returning to the state tournament are two of the biggest team goals, Collier said. “There’s a very high chance we can go to state again. We can do some damage.”

The Eagles have won 47 of 50 district games during Collier’s career. The loss to Canyon in the 5A state semifinals still weighs heavy on her mind.

About the 2017-18 season for Barbers Hill, Danley believes keeping his team healthy will likely be a major factor in its ability to make a return trip to San Antonio. Collier and company could see its stiffest competition at the annual McDonald’s Invitational tournament in Houston and Barbers Hill’s own holiday tournament. With a nine-team field in District 21-5A, there isn’t as much opportunity to play non-district games.

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