Lee College men’s basketball player Collin Means signed with NCAA Division II’s Delta State this week. From left, Lee head basketball coach Roy Champagne, Collin Means, Louie Means,

Rebel signs with D2 school despite sitting out with injury

Lee College basketball player Collin Means has signed on with NCAA Division II’s Delta State from Cleveland, Mississippi in the Gulf South Conference.

But to get there, wasn’t easy.

Means played for the Rebels during the 2017-18 season and did so with an injury he wasn’t aware of that would change everything for a while.

The Lutheran South Academy graduate matriculated to Hesston Junior College in Kansas before coming back closer to home.

Things started off swell for Means, but then things began to get troublesome.

“About November, we were in Utah, and I thought I had just pulled my groin,” Means said. “I had actually torn my labrum in my hip. So, I played the rest of the season with it, but I didn’t know it was torn (at the time). At the end of the season, I couldn’t even get in a defensive stance, so I had surgery in March (of 2018). I laid out all of (2018-19) and did rehab.”

Means ultimately got cleared to play and did so, by working out with the team and lifting weights yet still having his junior college eligibility expired.

He wasn’t going to give up his dream.

“He got it because he deserves it,” Lee head coach Roy Champagne said. “There isn’t a player that I have coached in 26 years that loves the game as much as Collin loves the game. The basketball gods were looking down on him.”

The special part of this signing is the lateness of it. Most programs have the guys they want by this time of year, so to sign with Delta State, 19-12 last season, was a major coup.

“I love basketball so much, I just wanted to find a place that was as committed toward me as I was toward them,” Means said. “They made the NCAA tournament … so I got lucky. It’s a business. To take a player who hasn’t played for a whole year? There’s got to be a lot of trust there. When they told me, they were offering me a scholarship, all those rehabs had paid off. I was so grateful ... I was worried I would never play again.”

Delta State lost a majority of its roster to graduation and brought in a new coach, Mike Neinaber from Christian Brothers University, and so they were still looking for some talent.

 “Collin played here from the start, he had the sports hernia and the torn labrum, but he wasn’t shutting it down,” Champagne said. “As soon as he was able to put a basketball in his hands he was here. He ran here, he lifted here, when he could do live individual drills, he did that. He was with us all year long. It wasn’t like he was lying on the couch. Coaches like to hear that, that he wasn’t just laid up and been out. He’s been a college basketball player who was working with college basketball players.”

Champagne noted that Lee’s program having a history of producing Division I and II players also helped him staying on the recruiting radar.

It was touch and go for Means and his career until Delta State made the bid for his services.

“I talked to (Neinaber) when I was in high school but then I went to JUCO,” Means said. “He saw me play in 2017-18, when I was here. When I got injured, I was bummed, I didn’t think I would ever play again.”

He was worried that when he would come back, he’d never be the same player.

“I have changed my game where I played more off of straight athleticism and now, I play with a more skillful mindset,” Means said. “I broke it down more and stayed within myself. I will probably get back to the athleticism phase, but I want to break it down and play it smart.”

That would work for a player entering a cerebral offense like the Princeton offense Neinaber runs. His 88 three-pointers in 2017-18 bodes well for Means fitting in with what Delta State will do.

Means also will pursue a degree in business and a master’s in business that he will begin while playing for Delta State since he is ahead of schedule.

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