The symbiotic relationship of Jarron Collins and his humbling high school coach

The symbiotic relationship of Jarron Collins and his humbling high school coach

OAKLAND -- Perched on the bench during games, he’s a model of cool. As Warriors coach Steve Kerr is yelling at referees and Mike Brown is trying to calm Kerr and Ron Adams ignoring them both, third assistant Jarron Collins is the dude projecting cerebral serenity.

Perhaps because at 6-foot-11 and about 270 pounds, he has been conditioned over his 39 years to exercise proper physical restraint in the midst of raging emotions.

Or maybe it’s because Collins has calculated the potential outcomes and, being rational, realizes he has little or no impact on any of them.

Then, too, it could be a matter of Collins being comfortable in his own skin and understanding that someone on the staff has to consider the consequences and be prepared to react in the way the best benefits the team.

There is little doubt, though, much of Collins’ demeanor can be traced back to his days at Harvard-Westlake High School in Los Angeles, where Jarron and his twin brother Jason picked up lessons they carried to Stanford, through their NBA careers and into life beyond their playing days.

The primary influence in that regard is Greg Hilliard, the basketball coach at Harvard-Westlake. A compact man with the taut physique of a drill sergeant and the sideline disposition of a monk, Hilliard retired in 2015 after 40 years in coaching, the last 30 at HW.

“He never got a technical foul,” Collins says.

“I coached 42 years without one,” Hilliard says. “I worked referees a completely different way and, I thought, a way more effective way. They had tough jobs and I figured I wouldn’t give them any more grief for trying to do it than they would give me for trying to do mine.”

That’s not to suggest Hilliard, who will be honored Friday at the Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards ceremony in San Francisco, didn’t carry a loud stick of authority. He was quick to remind his players that he was in charge.

Collins tested him once and that was enough.

In the summer before his senior year at HW, Collins attended a Nike Camp in the Midwest and played well enough that he had an inflated opinion of himself when he returned to Southern California. He figured he could bypass the trivial matters of Coach Hilliard providing direction.

“My head, my ego, was the size of a building,” Collins recalls. “In our first summer tournament, I was on the bench when the other team went on a run. And I was thinking, ‘OK, coach. Let’s stop this and get me back in.’ So I subbed myself back in. I just stood up and went to the scorer’s table and subbed myself in.”

Hilliard didn’t snap. Didn’t shout. Didn’t even shoot an icy glare in the direction of this brassy youngster.

“We were struggling and normally I would sub him,” Hilliard recalls. “But I didn’t right then. So he walked right past me and checked in. Within five seconds of that, I checked him out and sat him down for the rest of the game. I didn’t say anything except, ‘No, we don’t do it that way.’

“Now, he was probably a few seconds ahead of me in what I was about to do anyway. He was often a few seconds ahead of me because he was a very smart player. But you can discipline there without screaming and yelling and showboating or trying to convince the crowd that you’re the boss.”

Twenty-two years later, Jarron still reflects on that insolent teenage moment.

“What I really appreciate about Coach Hilliard is that not only did he humble me, but that he did it in the right way,” he says. “He saw me sub myself in, subsequently called a time out, subbed me back out and I didn’t play the rest of the game.

“I learned. Don’t be ‘that guy.’ Can’t be ‘that guy.’ That was completely disrespectful to my coach, to my teammates, to my school, to my family. And those are the reminders that I now appreciate.”

Hilliard won 752 games over 42 seasons, 616 of them at HW, where he took over the program in 1984. During his time there, the school won 13 league championships, nine CIF Southern Section championships and two state championships, those coming in back-to-back seasons (1996 and ’97) when the Collins twins were juniors and seniors.

“They made me a better coach,” Hilliard says. “And all of a sudden a place that nobody had ever heard off -- it’s a very highly academic and elitist kind of school -- became attractive to kids in South LA. They’d heard about the Collins twins and seen them on TV.”

You might say it was a symbiotic relationship. Hilliard, 68, has his memories. They’re with him each morning, when he wakes up 5 a.m. and proceeds to his daily workout. They’re with him each time he hears from Jarron or Jason.

“A lot of the lessons I learned about sacrificing for the team and dedication and hard work and putting the time in, all those life lessons, those are what have made me who I am today,” Jarron says. “I draw down upon those experiences. It starts with my family and it definitely starts with my coaches, beginning at a young age.”

Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson questionable for Game 5 vs Rockets

Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson questionable for Game 5 vs Rockets

Andre Iguodala has some company on the Warriors' injury report ahead of Game 5 in Houston on Thursday night.

Klay Thompson, who suffered a left knee strain during the first half of Game 4, is listed as questionable, the team announced Wednesday afternoon.

"Klay's moving aroound really well. I think Klay's going to be fine," Steve Kerr said following practice on Wednesday in Houston.

Iguodala missed Game 4 with a left lateral leg contusion and is questionable for Game 5.

"He's feeling a little better today. And he's out on the floor, not doing a whole lot, but making progress," Kerr said.

Thompson's injury occurred in the first minute of the second quarter on Tuesday. As he drove to the basket against Rockets center Clint Capela, he landed awkwardly and fell to the court. He stay in the game, but was quickly removed and went to the locker room with the Warriors trainers. Though the team diagnosed him with a left knee strain, Thompson returned to the game and played 39 total minutes.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Warriors 126, Rockets 85
Game 4 Rockets 95, Warriors 92
Game 5 Houston -- Thursday, May 24th at 6pm
Game 6 Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6pm
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6pm

'I thought it was bad' -- Bob Myers takes you inside training room for Klay's knee evaluation

'I thought it was bad' -- Bob Myers takes you inside training room for Klay's knee evaluation

Klay Thompson sustained a strained left knee on Tuesday night.

He checked out of the game with 10:16 left in the second quarter, and returned at the 6:06 mark.

On Wednesday afternoon, Warriors GM Bob Myers joined Greg Papa and Bonta Hill on 95.7 The Game and provided the following update on the four-time All-Star:

"He was a little sore today ... flying is not good for injuries ... he just doesn't get hurt. He's one of those guys. You could tell. I looked at Kirk (Lacob) and I said, 'He's hurt. Klay's hurt.'

"And if you were watching him try to run up and down, I thought it was bad. I was thinking meniscus or something. So then when he got back to the locker room, you can always kind of gauge a player's concern by their mannerisms. And he just threw a towel over his face and laid down on the training table. And that's not a good sign. 

"And then slowly the doctor goes through the progressions ... he passed all those function tests. And Klay couldn't pinpoint where the pain was ... he said it just hurts when (he) runs ... so then we went out in the back of the training room and he tried to run. And our trainer Chelsea free'd it up and it turned out to be a little more of a muscle thing, which was good news. But it was a tweak.

"It's funny -- Klay ran up and down twice and said, 'I'm good.' And just started walking back to the court. I think he's gonna be OK."

Klay only scored 10 points and went 4-for-13 from the field.

He dropped 28 points in Game 1, but has only registered a combined 31 points since.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller