Charli Collier’s sophomore campaign has been one of ascension. But before she could rise, Collier had to battle through the disappointment of unmet expectations and untapped potential.
While Texas’ sophomore center is a 6-foot-5 force of nature who can knock down 3-pointers, the key to Collier’s success on the court this season has been her unwavering pursuit of greatness.
“You can never be satisfied,” Collier said. “You never want to settle. I think that’s the most exciting part about me playing the sport, is that I know I have so much more.”
It’s this kind of ambition that has enabled Collier to transform her game. As a freshman last season, she averaged 5.9 points per contest and recorded just one start. This year, Collier averages a double-double and has played well enough to earn both Big 12 and espnW National Player of the Week honors.
But her stardom didn’t come overnight. The excellence Collier has exhibited on the court this season is a result of the numerous hours she has spent in the gym since the Longhorns lost to Indiana in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last March.
“She understood what she needed to get better at, and she immediately went to work and started working on her strength, working on her conditioning, getting in the gym, working on her shooting,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “I think it was a natural progression for her.”
This “natural progression” has been ongoing since college scouts began watching Collier while she was in middle school, and it continued into high school. Tri Danley, Collier’s coach at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, said she excelled the moment she stepped on the court and only got better over time.
“She had the foundation,” Danley said. “She had all the necessary traits. She just really worked hard at working on her craft. When she came to us as a freshman, she wanted to handle the ball and she wanted to shoot more from the perimeter ... and she just kept working on it and she got to where she is now. It’s all her doing, and it’s really paid off for her.”
By 2018, Collier was a McDonald’s High School All-American and the nation’s top-ranked player, according to Prospects Nation and the Blue Star Report.
Her track record and accolades said it all: Collier was destined for greatness. So when the Mont Belvieu native had a relatively quiet freshman season at Texas, she was frustrated.
“I’m not going to lie, freshman year was really hard,” Collier said. “It’s just high expectations when you come out of high school as good as I was.”
Instead of transferring or settling, she turned her shortcomings into opportunities for growth.
“I had to flip everything and forget about everything that happened last year and turn on a different side of me, so to speak,” Collier said. “This was the year I had to step up — basically being thrown into the fire.”
With conference opponents sending double teams her way each game, Collier has handled the flames so far this season. She hopes to help lead the Longhorns to a Big 12 Championship and take the team even further than last year by winning the NCAA Championship.
Collier excels at her sport, but is more than just an athlete. Danley said she is amazing because she can do a lot more than basketball, and that’s exactly what Collier intends to do after Texas.
The star center has WNBA aspirations, but she also dreams of someday becoming an ESPN sports analyst like Maria Taylor or Stephen A. Smith. Collier also wants to be a model.
While the future is uncertain, Collier’s determination isn’t. She’ll maintain the same winning mindset in whatever she pursues.
“I feel like you have to put in a good effort in everything you do,” Collier said. “And basketball helps me a lot in life skills … I’m never the type of person to not finish something. You work until you get it.”