SPOKANE, Wash. — Former Gonzaga men's basketball standout Zach Collins is headed to the Western Conference finals with the Portland Trail Blazers after the team waited 19 long seasons for their return.
Portland beat the Denver Nuggets 100-96 in Game 7 of their second-round series on Sunday afternoon to advance to the West finals for the first time since 1999-2000.
The Blazers will open the best-of-seven series on Tuesday night in Oakland.
Every game between the Blazers and the defending champion Golden State Warriors begins at 6 p.m., and every game will be broadcast on ESPN. The full schedule is available on KREM.com.
Collins will also face off against former Washington State University Cougar Klay Thompson, who plays for the Golden State Warriors, for a chance in the NBA finals.
Thompson, a three-time NBA champion, has been playing with the Warriors since 2011 and is credited as one of the greatest shooters in NBA history.
Collins declared for the 2017 NBA Draft during his freshman year at Gonzaga. He was a No. 10 overall pick in the NBA Draft and was traded from Sacramento to Portland, where he earned a spot on the opening day roster.
In April of 2018, Collins officially finished his rookie year with the Blazers.
During his time with Gonzaga, the Las Vegas native averaged 10 points and 5.9 rebounds in just 17.2 minutes per game. He also led the team with 69 blocked shots. Collins shot a team-best 65.2 percent from the floor, and hit 10 of his 21 attempts from beyond the three-point line.
At the beginning of his rookie year with the Blazers, he had a steep learning curve and only had three career points to his name by Dec. 5, 2017. Starting in early December, though, the former Gonzaga sixth man earned more minutes on the court and became a much bigger piece to this team.
Last season, the pairing of Zach Collins and Ed Davis was an effective one for the Blazers. In the 787 minutes those two shared the court, the Blazers outscored opponents by 6.4 points per 100 possessions.
Since then, the forward’s stats have continued to improve. Collins is now scoring an average of 6.6 points per game, with 4.2 rebounds and close to one assist, according to ESPN.
KGW staff and digital sports reporter Jared Crowley contributed to this report.