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Bishop Gorman, Centennial basketball stars sign letters

Updated November 12, 2020 - 7:21 pm

Few programs in any sport have been as dominant as the Bishop Gorman boys basketball team and Centennial girls basketball team in the past decade.

Three of the top players from those programs signed to play college basketball Wednesday and Thursday. Gorman will send senior point guard Zaon Collins to UNLV and senior shooting guard Will McClendon to UCLA, and Centennial senior guard Taylor Bigby will head to Oregon.

Gorman coach Grant Rice said he remembers a young Collins going to Gaels’ games and wearing their colors. He’s seen the 6-foot Collins grow into a four-star recruit ranked No. 45 in the nation for the Class of 2021, according to Rivals.com.

Rice called Collins “the ultimate Las Vegas kid” during the signing ceremony Thursday at Bishop Gorman. It’s a title Collins doesn’t take lightly.

“They’ve always been one of my top choices because it’s home,” Collins said. “It just feels better. That played a lot into my decision. You get to stay at home. You get to play in front of the people who have been backing you up your whole life while you were playing AAU ball.”

Collins, who said UNLV offered him a scholarship in the eighth grade, and McClendon have combined to go 86-12 in three years with the Gaels. They’ve won three Class 4A state championships to help run the school’s streak to nine straight.

Collins has a knack of playing quickly but never seeming hurried, being strong with the ball and making decisions that allow the Gaels’ offense to run smoothly.

It doesn’t hurt having a teammate in the backcourt such as the 6-foot-4-inch McClendon, also a four-start recruit ranked No. 37 by Rivals.com. McClendon is comfortable attacking the basket and pulling up from 3-point range, and his quickness and length on the perimeter make it difficult for opposing guards.

He hopes to help build UCLA back into an elite program.

“It’s everybody’s dream to go to a blue blood (program), and UCLA, I feel like, is the original blue blood,” McClendon said. “Great academics, great athletics, great alumni, great coaches, hospitality — it’s a blessing to go to UCLA. It just felt like a no-brainer. I’d be stupid not to go there.”

Bigby comes full circle

For Bigby, signing Wednesday night at the Centennial Hills YMCA made everything come full circle. After all, that was where she played her first game in the third grade.

“I did play my first game here, and when I did, I was not good,” Bigby said. “I was pretty bad.”

Nobody would say that about Bigby now. The 6-foot standout, who can play nearly every position, is listed as a four-star recruit by ESPN.com and ranked No. 29 in the country. She’s won three state championships, helping Centennial run its streak to six straight.

She will join an Oregon program that won the Pac-12 regular-season and tournament titles last season and was one of the favorites for the national championship before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the season to shut down.

“It’s definitely a blessing,” Bigby said. “I never thought I would be going to one of the top schools in the county. It means a lot to be able to play against and play with some of the best of the best.”

Contact Jason Orts at jorts@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2936. Follow @SportsWithOrts on Twitter.

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