By Tom Robinson
NEPA Elite guard and Scranton Prep rising senior Cecelia Collins has given her verbal commitment to accept a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I scholarship from Patriot League regular-season champion Bucknell University.
Collins informed Bucknell coach Trevor Woodruff of her decision Sunday, choosing the Bison over offers from St. Bonaventure and Army West Point as well as interest from others.
“Obviously, just the amazing academics,” Collins said in explaining her decision Sunday night. “My parents always tell me that’s more of our first priority. But, also the great basketball program and how close I am with the coaches.
“It just kind of checked all my boxes and was what I was looking for.”
With the decision, Collins became the first player from the Class of 2021 from a District 2 high school to announce a Division I commitment. She also gives AAU teams from Backcourt Hoops in Scranton Division I women’s basketball committed players for three straight years and four of the last five.
Collins, now waiting for her debut with the new NEPA Elite team out of Backcourt Hoops, follows Lauren Charlton, her JB Hoops AAU teammate last year. Charlton, a recent Dallas graduate, is headed to the University of Pennsylvania.
Victoria Toomey just completed her first season at Rider University. Maddie Martin, who, like Toomey, played at Dunmore and for JB Hoops, headed to New Jersey Institute of Technology following her 2017 graduation.
Collins played for current Bucknell University assistant Taylor Coleman’s JB Hoops team in 2018. Coleman and Bucknell head coach Trevor Woodruff each made the move from the University of Scranton to Bucknell prior to the 2019-20 season.
“Cecelia works extremely hard on her game, day in and day out,” said Kevin Clark, Backcourt Hoops co-owner and NEPA Elite founder. “I think her ceiling on the collegiate level is extremely high. They’re taking a look at her potential. It’s something that can help a team at the college level win.”
Clark said Collins does not stop working on her game after formal workout and training sessions, including those in which he has worked with her.
“She goes home and she’s that girl that works 24/7 on her game,” Clark said.
Scranton Prep coach Bob Beviglia said he told Collins her decision leaves her with a strong chance to play in the NCAA Tournament. Bucknell represented the Patriot League in the 2017 and 2019 tournaments and appeared headed to a third appearance in four years despite Woodruff taking over a team that had been hit hard by graduation.
The Bison led the Patriot League with a 16-2 record to earn the top postseason seed. It opened the league tournament with a ninth straight win to improve to 24-6 overall when the remainder of the season was canceled because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
“Bucknell is, in my opinion, easily the best program in the Patriot League,” Beviglia said. “With Trevor there, that’s only going to get better. He’s an outstanding recruiter. He’s a great X-and-O guy. He knows this area.”
Woodruff, who earlier coached the Misericordia University men, coached the University of Scranton women to a 113-10 record and four championships in four seasons before making the jump from Division III to Division I.
Collins, a 5-foot-11 guard/forward, earned third-team Class 4A all-state honors from state sports writers for her role in Scranton Prep’s unbeaten 2019-20 season that included Lackawanna League Division 1 and District 2 Class 4A titles. The Classics were in the state quarterfinals when the season ended abruptly.
NEPABasketball.com named Collins, who averaged 16.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.6 steals, a first-team, all-District 2 selection and a first-team Lackawanna league Division 1 all-star.