The newest Trail Blazers, Zach Collins and Caleb Swanigan, were welcomed to Rip City Monday.
Portland selected the pair of big men at 10th and 26th overall, and Monday the two were introduced at a news conference in Tualatin.
General Manager Neil Olshey said he believes the pair will fight for spots on the team, and despite continuing to have a young roster, he believes the team is making the moves to build for success the right way.
“From a talent standpoint, we’re incredibly pleased we were able to get both of these guys,” he said. “There are no quick fixes. Quick fixes create problems, that’s what they do. And that’s not what we’ve been about it here.”
There were no quick fixes for Swanigan. The Big 10 player of the year for the Boilermakers slimmed down his 6-foot 9-inch frame by trimming off some 100 pounds since freshmen year of high school, battling through life in and out of homeless shelters before being adopted by Purdue legend and former NFL linebacker Roosevelt Barnes.
“He’s meant a lot for me. He gave me structure early on, support, everything you’d want a father to do for you,” Swanigan said.
Swanigan graduated high school in 3 years and turned his entire world around to earn himself a guaranteed contract in the NBA.
“I’m just looking forward, mainly, to the opportunity. That is the biggest thing I have always wanted is a chance, and the Blazers have given me that,” he said.
While the former Boilermaker was second in rebounds in all of the NCAA, the 7-foot Collins had the most blocks in the NCAA tournament while coming off the bench for the national runner-up Zags.
“I started playing really well against that big competition against the best players in the country,” he said. “Przemek (Karnowski) came back, so I knew my role wasn’t going to be a starter right away. So I just tried to embrace that role and make an impact on the game and try to affect the game in a positive way.”
Both big men vow to bring toughness and unselfishness to the youngest team in the league, something head coach Terry Stotts likes in his picks.
“I like both of their demeanors on the court. I think they are both very competitive, hard-nosed players,” he said. “They’re aggressive, I like their mentality, and probably more than anything else, at this stage, I like the players they’re going to become.”
Collins and Swanigan will suit up for the Blazers when Summer League tips off on July 8 in Las Vegas, Collins’ hometown.
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