Collins Chasing History Tonight

Sherron Collins (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Sherron Collins is chasing history tonight, and he can't stop. Not now, not after helping Kansas win 123 games during his storied career and tying Raef LaFrentz, C.B. McGrath and Billy Thomas for first place on the all-time wins list at KU.

LaFrentz, McGrath and Thomas were part of teams that went 123-17 from 1995-98. Sherron Collins and teammate Brady Morningstar (he redshirted in 2007-08), meanwhile, have gone 123-16 the past four years.

With a victory over Oklahoma at Allen Fieldhouse, Collins and Brady Morningstar will become the winningest players in KU history.

In a tradition-rich school boasting such four-year legends as LaFrentz, Darnell Valentine, Danny Manning, Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison, that in head coach Bill Self's words, is "a remarkable deal."

Collins credits the "teams and teammates that I had before me to help me get this."

"It's going to mean so much," the 5-11 senior guard said. "It's a big accomplishment. I never thought I'd be in this position. Like I've always been saying, it's all the teams and coaches put together. A lot of guys (have bought) into his (Self's) system. That's one thing he's been preaching since I got here is winning. That's all we've been doing.

"There's a lot of names, a lot of greats who've played here. It's special to be on that list."

Collins' teammates are thrilled he's about to make history.

"I think that would be huge," junior center Cole Aldrich said. "Sherron and I have gone through a lot together, winning it (national title) two years ago and coming in (last year) with a team that (people) didn't think could do anything to making it to the Sweet 16 and almost beating Michigan State.

"He definitely deserves it. He's really worked his butt off to put himself in position to do that, and the guys around him have kind of rallied around because he's our leader."

The best leader Self has ever coached. The guy who impacts the game more than any player Self has ever coached. And the winningest player (along with Morningstar) Self has ever coached.

"He's going to get it (record) by far," freshman swingman Xavier Henry said. "We just help him out every day. We try to push him to the limit."

And Collins is quite thankful.

"That's why I'll get it," he said, "teammates like that."

Self is extremely proud of Collins and Morningstar, too. But he can't help look down the road for Collins. With 11 more victories, he would surpass Shane Battier and his fellow Duke seniors from the Class of 2001, who hold the NCAA record for most wins with 133 against 15 defeats (1998-2001).

‘He's a long way from this, and we'd have to get hot down the stretch ... (but that's) the next one he needs to get," Self said.

Tonight could be extra special for Collins with a KU victory. That would clinch Kansas a share of its sixth straight Big 12 championship.

"It's real hard for a school to do, especially in a tough conference like we got," Collins said. "Winning four would be special. I've never lost a conference championship here. It would be great."

The Chicago native is certainly feeling "great" these days as the leader of the No. 1 Jayhawks. And why shouldn't he? After all, he's winning on and off the court. Collins, who already has a son Sherr'mari (he'll be 3 in April), became a proud father again to a baby girl named Sharee', who was born on Feb. 15, just before the KU-Texas A&M game. He's also set to graduate after this semester and become the first male in his family to earn a degree.

And contrary to some observers looking for reasons for Collins' shooting slump, he said he's feeling 100 percent health-wise. He actually showed signs of breaking loose by scoring 13 points and hitting 3 of 7 shots from downtown in KU's 94-74 victory over Colorado Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.

Collins hopes to keep rolling. With just two home games left in his career, Collins is savoring each moment, each breath, each shot, and each victory.

And all the cheers.

"It's almost like you don't want it to end, but you can't stop it," Collins said. "It's a little sad, but happy at the same time. I just don't want to leave. ... I cherish every time I run out of the tunnel and hearing 16, 3(00) cheering for you. It's incredible. I don't have many chances to do it again.

"The fans are great."

Self can sense Collins soaking it all in as Senior Night approaches on March 3 against K-State.

"I think he's embracing it a lot," Self said. "He's talked a lot to me about, ‘God, I only got six more (home games), I only got four more.' Now with only two, it's a big deal to him. It would be a big deal to anybody, but it's a big deal when the winningest player in the history of the school plays his last game. Certainly, he's played a huge role in the majority of those wins."

Indeed, he has. For Collins, the wins first started on Nov. 11, 2006 in his freshman debut game with a a 91-57 victory over Northern Arizona in Allen Fieldhouse. He scored 14 points with three assists and one steal in 23 minutes.

The wins have kept on coming. KU went 33-5 and advanced to the Elite Eight during Collins' freshman season, recorded a 37-3 mark and won a national championship his sophomore year, posted a 27-8 record and earned a Sweet 16 berth last year, and is now 26-1 (12-0 Big 12) and on the brink of clinching a conference championship.

Of course, Collins is also one victory away from becoming the winningest player this school has ever seen. Sure, that's all great. But Collins isn't ready to rest and stop now, not until the Jayhawks cut down the national championship nets at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on April 5.

That's his goal, his dream.

"That's what I came back for, that's what me and Cole came back for," Collins said. "That's what our team is striving for, pushing for. We want to win it all. We know we have to take one game at a time, we got steps to still take.

"But we want to be there at the end."

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