On Tuesday, Nov. 5, Johns Collins, a former Wake Forest basketball star and current Atlanta Hawks forward, was suspended for 25 games without pay after violating the NBA’s drug policy. Collins tested positive for Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide-2 (GHRP-2), which increases appetite, but has also been shown to increase growth hormone secretion, according to The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner.
“First I want to apologize to my teammates, the Hawks organization, our fans, partners and community as a whole for this situation,” Collins said in a statement to ESPN’s basketball insider Adrian Wojnarowski. “I understand the impact this matter has on what we are trying to achieve together this season, and I am incredibly frustrated and disappointed in myself for putting all of us in this position.”
In his statement, Collins went on to say that he did not know precisely how the substance ended up in his body, and he went on to suggest that he perhaps had taken some sort of tainted supplement. He intends to appeal his suspension, a process that could take up to two weeks. He will not permitted to play during the appeals process.
Should his appeal fail, Collins suspension will see him lose out on $610,582, per The New York Times.
During his 2016-17 season at Wake Forest, Collins established himself as one of the top players in NCAA basketball, averaging 19.2 PPG and 9.8 RPG. He also led the team to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2010, but the Demon Deacons exited quickly after a 95-88 loss to Kansas State in the First Four.
The Atlanta Hawks drafted him with the 19th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, and during his rookie season, he appeared in 74 games and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He entered his sophomore NBA campaign with high expectations on a lackluster Hawks roster, but he delivered, averaging 19.5 PPG and 9.8 RPG, a line reminiscent of his college days.
In five games this season, Collins averaged 17 PPG and 8.8 RPG, and he leads the Hawks with 32.2 minutes per game. He figured to be a key part of an exciting, young Hawks roster, which features Trae Young and rookies De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish. Now, the young Hawks squad likely will be without one of the roster’s more seasoned players for about a third of the season.
During Collins’ absence, the Hawks will turn to backup forward Jabari Parker, who performed admirably on short notice Tuesday, posting 19 points and eight rebounds in 32 minutes of playing time. The Hawks may also slot Hunter or the ageless wonder Vince Carter in the power forward position while Collins serves his suspension.
Though the NBA season just began a few weeks ago, there have already been three players to receive 25-game suspensions for violating the NBA’s drug policy. John Collins joins Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton and Brooklyn Nets forward Wilson Chandler on the ignominious list.