From court to camera, Collier shares passion for basketball through new lens

Taylor Hawthorne

Junior center Charli Collier’s love for basketball is evident as she rips down rebounds and soars over multiple defenders for a layup, but it has also driven her to start a new series on Instagram’s IGTV called “Center Court.”
 
Collier is familiar with being interviewed by the media, but “Center Court'' serves as a way for her to be the interviewer instead of the interviewee. A two-time Big 12 Player of the Week honoree, Collier mentioned on a Jan. 13 teleconference that she wants to be a sports broadcaster for ESPN whenever she’s done with basketball. The series creates a stepping stone to achieving this goal, Collier said.
 
“I like to talk in front of the camera,” Collier said. “I want to be a sports broadcaster when I’m done with basketball, so it’s just giving me that experience. I like doing it and a lot of NBA and WNBA stars have been telling me, ‘Hey, this is great. I would love to come on your show.’”
 
During a Jan. 30 teleconference, head coach Vic Shaefer said that Collier plays with “extreme poise and confidence,” something she incorporates into her show as well.
 
Caitlin Smith, a UT alumna and friend of Collier’s, helps with the behind the scenes editing, but also gets to witness how Collier conducts herself as an interviewer. Smith said Collier’s radiant personality shines through her conversations, which helps her connect with her guests.
 
“I’m impressed with how calm and collected she is,” Smith said. “Obviously, she’s been in the basketball culture forever so she can relate to these people super well. She’s super chill and also has some sass and smoke that I love.”
 
The guests on the show have ranged from high school basketball star Jada Williams to former Texas basketball and current Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner. Collier was able to carry the traction from the Turner interview to secure her next NBA player and biggest name guest yet, ten-time NBA All-Star Kevin Durant.

Getting Durant, who won the Naismith Player of the Year award in his lone season at Texas, to come on the show was a Christmas gift, Smith said. Literally. 
 
“On Christmas morning, she (Collier) texted me and said, ‘I have something to tell you. Kevin Durant said he will do the interview. My present to you, Merry Christmas,’” Smith said. “It was so crazy and exciting for both of us finding out on Christmas day.”
 
Since starting her IGTV series, Collier has had to hunt for interviews like the journalists who cover her games. Collier said her favorite part of the process is just getting a response from her prospective guests.

“They get a lot of interview requests, and I was fortunate enough to get the people that I have so far,” Collier said. “So, when people take the time out of their day to interview with you, it’s a good thing because I know how it feels. Sometimes I don’t want to do interviews, so I just appreciate them taking the time out of their busy schedule.”
 
The main things Collier wants her audience to take away from “Center Court” are the stories and advice her guests share.
 
“I really want them to actually listen to the words,” Collier said. “They know basketball, and the whole reason for the show is to inspire other people. The things we go through as athletes, a lot of people don’t know about, so just listen to their (the guests) upbringing, background and how they got started in basketball, because that’s what it’s all about.”