AS she continues her transition to college, University of Mississippi bound Rhema Collins came home to take advantage of some training from professional player Ryan Moss and veteran women’s coach Anthony Swaby.
Moss and Swaby took Collins through a series of workouts yesterday at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium as the 6-foot, 2-inch forward took the break from her final season with the Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee.
“I’ve just been focusing on basketball lately, preparing for college,” said Collins, who will be in town until December 26 before she heads back to school to play in a tournament in Tampa, Florida from December 28-31.
“Individually, I feel I’m grown a lot as a player and a person. I feel my team has also matured to a different level from last season. So, I’m really happy about that.”
With Webb School posting an 8-2 win-loss record before she came home, Collins said she just wants to use this time to enjoy the break with family and friends and of course engage in some basketball competition.
She said she’s even thrilled to get in the workout sessions with Moss and Swaby. Both Denika Lightbourne, who attends Tallulah Falls, and Michelle Butler, who is at Mineral Area in Missouri, were also expected to participate in the training but didn’t make it.
“I wasn’t expecting Mr Moss to be here. I thought I would have only been working out with coach Swaby, but it’s cool,” Collins said. “I’m really happy with the opportunity to work with him. I was really shocked to see him.”
After retiring from playing professional when he had his last sting in Hong Kong in 2019/2020, the 48-year-old Moss, who stands at 6-7, has been training players with his most recent stop in Taiwan with their national team.
“This is a good opportunity to give back. I don’t just want to give them on the court experience, but off the court as well,” Moss said. “I want to teach them what to do when they get their success and how they can keep the success level going.
“So, I’m excited to work with Rhema. She looks like she’s ready for the next level. She’s also eager to learn. That’s what I look for in athletes. As long as you are willing to learn, I’m willing to teach. I try to teach the mental part of the game, not the physical because it’s 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical.”
Swaby said after engaging Moss to work out with the women’s national team that was scheduled to go to Mexico last month, but didn’t because of financial constraints, he volunteered to work with the players whenever they come home.
“He wants to instil in them the importance of coming home and getting some basketball workout in so that when they do go back to school, their game would not have decreased any,” Swaby said.
“We know when they go back for January, this is the important time for the year, especially Rhema, to get her in some frame of mind when she heads to Ole Miss. She’s going to be something special.”
The 17-year-old Collins, who represented the Bahamas at the 2019 Centrobasket Under-17 Women’s Championships at the age of 24, has committed to play for Ole Miss, headed by Bahamian coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin beginning in August.
She will follow in the footsteps of point guard Valerie Nesbitt, who played for the Rebels two years ago.
“I’m really confident in my decision. I trust her a lot as a coach and as a person,” said Coillins about the decision to go to Ole Miss with McPhee-McCuin.
“Looking at the other options I had and after hearing all of the great things about her, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go there.”
While she waits for that opportunity to take place next year, Collins said she’s eager to get going with her high school experience.
“Things have been going very well. My grades are very good, and basketball is going very well,” she noted. “I just been having a fun season.”
Hopefully in the future, Collins will continue to improve and eventually become the next Bahamian to join Jonquel Jones from Grand Bahama in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) or at least in the professional ranks of basketball.