After the city sent four teams to the UIL boys basketball state tournament last season, this season Atascocita High School was the only Houston area boys team in contention during the state tournament.
And Atascocita senior captain guards Tom Hart III and Justin Collins are why the Eagles finished the season ranked as the ninth best team in Texas with a 24-3 overall record (10-2 in district play).
Hart, a 6’0” guard, is lightning in a bottle the way he is everywhere on the court. Hart’s athleticism and leaping abilities grant him the ability to guard all positions on defense. And Hart’s pure will to score the basketball is out of this world as seen in the Regional Championships when he hit the game winning shot against Summer Creek with only seconds remaining.
Collins is your prototypical 3-and-D player who specializes mainly in 3-point shooting (“3”) and defense (“D”). Collins can also distribute the ball efficiently creating opportunities for teammates.
When Atascocita head basketball coach David Martinez was asked what Hart and Collins have added to the roster this season, Martinez stated, “They both take turns as our leaders. We saw that coming into this summer. We all said if we are going to go to the state tournament it will be because of these two.”
“They are also not afraid to guard anybody. Both of them understand you have to do it on the defensive end no matter who it is,” Martinez added.
The Defender spoke with Hart and Collins to discuss their styles of play, major influences and senior journey to the state tournament.
Style of Play
Collins: “I’m a pass first point guard. I like to help my team get buckets, spot up shoot and play defense.”
Hart III: “My main focus is defense. I take pride in stopping the best player on the(other) team. I like doing the dirty work. I am also a team player that loves to see my teammates shine.”
Collins: “When I see I have an open shot I am going to shoot it. And when I see an open lane I will take the layup. But most of the time, when I have the ball in my hand I am looking for my teammates.”
Collins: “I keep everybody calm and settled down to help slow the game down when we need to and keep the intended pace.”
Regional Championship Game Winner
Hart III: “I was going to bring the ball up because I told coach I was going to take the last shot. But since they were pressing me Justin was wide open, so I passed it to him. And when he drove down the court he passed it back to me. I was going to shoot the pull up but when I saw the paint was open I just went up and made the play happen.”
Hart III: “It just puts confidence in all of us, because to us we are the best team in the state. So, we look at it like we have to just prove that to people.”
ABOUT JUSTIN COLLINS
Commitment Status: Undecided
Players He Studies: James Harden, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo
Hobbies: Listen to music, listen to music, chill and play video game NBA2k
Favorite Musician: G Herbo
Shoutouts: My mom, dad, big brother Trae, sister Jonae and all the people at Atascocita
ABOUT TOM HART III
Commitment Status: Undecided
Current Offers: Rice University
Favorite Musicians: Youngboy, Lil Durk and Lil Baby
Hobbies: Chilling with my homeboys
Shoutout: The whole Atascocita team and the whole gang because this is for them.