Zach Collins, 30 pounds heavier, is stronger and has a medal to prove it

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Dwight Jaynes
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Zach Collins emerged from the Trail Blazers' weight room at their practice facility Wednesday afternoon to meet the media wearing a very heavy, round gold medal with a spinner on it, attached to a gold chain around his neck.

Is this man doing a lousy Flavor Flav impersonation or did he just get some sort of recognition from his team?

"We'll have lifting sessions sometimes the day after a game instead of going through a two-and-a-half-hour practice. We'll just go in there and lift and get our bodies right," Collins said after removing the medal prior to his interview. "The H and P staff will pick whoever they thought worked the hardest or, they told me I was here a lot during the summer working with them, and they just gave it to me at this time. Last year they didn't give it to me a lot and I was kind of mad about it. But the first time they brought it out this year and I got it."

Certainly, it would appear Collins deserved some sort of medal for improving his bulk and strength.

"I definitely feel stronger," he said. "Being able to take multiple hits and still go after a ball."

And the facts would seem to back that up.

"I was weighing between 244 and 248 last year," Collins said. "Now I'm between 252 and 256."

A big improvement from what he weighed when he was drafted out of Gonzaga after his freshman year.

"The strength coaches will tell you I came in at 215 but I was about 220 to 225," he said.

How much of that was work in the weight room and how much was a change in diet?

"I did get a chef," Collins said. "My rookie year, I had trouble trying to figure out what I was supposed to eat after a game. It's not like in Vegas (his hometown) where everything's open past midnight.

"So, it was tough for me to find a healthy meal after a game my rookie year. Last year and this year I had the same chef and they're going to do a good job of just getting me pre-game meals, post-game meals, non-game-day meals and they work with our nutritionist here so everybody's on the same page."

Collins started at power forward Tuesday against Denver and played the most of any Trail Blazer. He went 23:54, hit five of 12 shots, scored 10 points while collecting six rebounds. He said his injured left middle finger didn't hurt, after it kept him out of practice for a few days.

"Offensively, it was our first preseason game and there are some kinks we've got to work out," Collins said. "There are some details on offense we've got to get worked out. But I was really happy. I was encouraged."

Zach Collins, 30 pounds heavier, is stronger and has a medal to prove it originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest