Every part of her game checks off a box.

Defense. Rebounding. Passing. Ballhandling. Scoring.

Now, Scranton Prep’s Cecelia Collins added one more checkmark of her own: Bucknell University.

The Times-Tribune All-Region selection and third-team all-state performer in Class 4A accepted a scholarship offer to continue her academic and athletic careers for the Bison.

“It was actually pretty easy for me,” Collins said. “Bucknell checked all my boxes. I kind of knew what I wanted to do these past couple days and finally made my decision.

“I just always focused on that academic piece. Obviously I’ve known the coaches, just knowing that I’ll come out of there with an amazing degree and hopefully just have an amazing four years there.”

Collins knew Bucknell head coach Trevor Woodruff, who lived in Dunmore when he coached at the University of Scranton. His assistant coach, Taylor Coleman, was Collins’ coach for AAU basketball.

“I knew him obviously from coaching at the University of Scranton, but being that he lived in Scranton, he knows my family. Also, coach Coleman was my AAU coach, so I knew her as well,” Collins said. “Definitely it did help, but I think over these past couple months I’ve gotten to know him a lot better. He’s a really nice guy, he’s obviously a really good coach, so it definitely helped.”

The 17-year-old had early offers from St. Bonaventure and Army West Point but Bucknell had the inside track.

“I think she was sold on the school and the program,” Scranton Prep head coach Bob Beviglia said. “I had a conversation with her and her dad. If that’s the way they felt, if they were sure, there was no reason to wait.”

The coronavirus pandemic may have accelerated the decision, with AAU summer ball on the shelf and the NCAA extending its “dead period,” when coaches were not allowed to have contact with recruits, through Aug. 31.

Scranton Prep’s Cecelia Collins reacts form the bench late in the fourth quarter of a PIAA District 2 Class 4A basketball semifinal game against Nanticoke at Scranton High School on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020.


“It changed a lot of things, especially AAU,” Collins said. “Either way, it’s pretty tough making this decision, but once you do it, it’s a big weight off your shoulders.”

Collins was an integral part in Scranton Prep’s first undefeated season in school history, and was the team’s second-leading scorer, averaging 15.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists. In two PIAA playoff games, she hit 15 of 28 field-goal attempts and scored 22 — two off her career high — in a second-round win over Allentown Central Catholic.

“Talking to some of these coaches I felt really I could play at that level,” Collins said. “Especially when I got that first offer because I got the scholarship. Probably at that point, or a couple of days or weeks before that because of how confident some of these coaches were in me.”

In a 12-month stretch starting with the summer of her sophomore season, Collins also grew from 5-foot-4 to 5-foot-8, which helped put her on the radar of more Division I programs. Now, she’s an inch shy of being a 6-footer.

“I think a lot of them were shocked because of how late it is,” Collins said. “It’s not really normal, you could say, for a girl. I just said my family is a bunch of late growers. It’s weird, but it helps as well, too.”

It also adds to her on-court versatility. Projected as a guard in college, she has defended bigger players, too, and has developed her inside offensive game to create mismatches at the high school level.

“I’m thrilled for her family,” Beviglia said. “She’s worked so hard. I know that for her, this has always been her dream, to play college basketball. The fact that she now sees all the work that she has put in with us and through her AAU stuff, it’s really nice to see an example of a kid where you have that kind of hard work paying off.”