Celtics' Collins remembers Pierce, Garnett from AAU days

Celtics' Collins remembers Pierce, Garnett from AAU days
October 10, 2012, 5:22 am
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One of the highly-touted seniors was intense,JasonCollinsremembered, while the other effortlessly hit his shots.

Nearly 20 years before he signed with the Boston Celtics,Collinsfaced current teammates Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in a 1994 Las Vegas AAU Tournament. Collinswas entering his sophomore year at the time and was well aware of his older competition.

As a student at Harvard-Westlake in Los Angeles, he had played against Inglewood native Pierce in previous AAU games. Even though Garnett attended his first three years of high school across the country in South Carolina, there was nationwide buzz about the teenager going straight to the NBA.

Kevin was the same way intense, talking trash, playing hard,Collinstold CSNNE.com. He had 19 blocks in the game so he wasn't letting anything go. Paul had the same style, all-around game. He was a scorer, just knocked down shots.

Collins team, ARC, lost the game, but the matchup stayed with him throughout the rest of his high school career.

That was my first time playing against a really good big man, the seven-foot center said. Their team won the game, but I learned a lot because I was two years behind those guys and that helped me tremendously for stuff I needed to work on.

Collinswent on to become a McDonalds All-American and played college basketball at Stanford University. He joined Garnett and Pierce in the NBA when the Houston Rockets selected him with the 18thoverall pick in the 2001 Draft. 11 years later, they became teammates when Collins signed with the Celtics in July.

I didnt know I was playing two future Hall of Famers, but I knew I was playing against two highly talented basketball players, he said. I took away from that game what things I needed to work on. When you're going up against better competition, it only makes you better. It shows you your weaknesses and what you need to improve upon. Two years later, I'm a McDonald's All-American and someone behind me is learning from going up against me.

Now playing on the Cs,Collins, Garnett, and Pierce are pushing their younger teammates together, the same way in which Garnett and Pierce pushedCollins years ago.