LAWRENCE, Kan. — When his mother moved down from Chicago last fall to spend more time with her doting son, nobody called Sherron Collins a mama's boy.
Nobody dared. It wouldn't seem safe. Everywhere he goes on Kansas' basketball-crazed campus, Collins commands genuine affection and deep respect. One angry scowl from their tough, muscular point guard has been known to fill lackadaisical teammates with sudden bursts of energy.
Whether he's dishing out assists, drilling 3-pointers or driving fearlessly to the basket while going around, over or through much taller defenders, it is Collins who makes the No. 3 Jayhawks go. They would probably not be anything close to national championship contenders without him, and they know it.
"This is Sherron's team," said center Cole Aldrich. "He's our general. He's our leader. He's got an edge to him that makes everybody listen."
A preseason All-American, Collins is popular among his teammates for more than just his basketball skills and boxer-like physique. Unlike a lot of college stars, he does not seem to care much about anything but winning.
When the Jayhawks were in danger of losing to Cornell and the shooters were having an off night, he came through with 33 points. Last week against No. 25 Baylor, he had 28 points and canned his fifth 3-pointer with a little more than a minute left. Then he hustled down court and got a defensive rebound to ice a hard-fought 81-75 win.
Yet, when scoring from their point guard is not needed, he's happy to let others pad their stats. After averaging almost 20 points last year, his total is down almost five because coach Bill Self asked him to concentrate more on distributing the ball among his gifted teammates.
In an 84-61 drubbing of Nebraska, he contented himself with 11 points while Aldrich had 19.
"He's the ultimate team player," said guard Tyrel Reed. "He doesn't care if he scores 30 points or 10. He'll do whatever it takes for us to win. I think that's very rare in college basketball, to have your best player be willing to do that."
At 5-11 and 210 pounds, Collins looks like a linebacker trying out for basketball. Yet, he stands on the threshold of a unique and enduring basketball achievement.
If the Jayhawks keep rolling, he will become the winningest player in their storied history, passing the likes of Danny Manning, Wilt Chamberlain and Paul Pierce.
At the beginning of his senior season, Collins had been part of 97 wins. Going into Monday night's game against Missouri, Kansas was 18-1. If the Jayhawks win nine more times, Collins will have been a part of 124 victories, a four-year record among all those who've worn the Kansas uniform.
It would be a fitting legacy for the man who Self says "impacts a college basketball game more than any player I've ever coached."
"He's never going to be the leading scorer here. He'd have to average 80 a game for the rest of the season," Self said. "He's never going to be the leading assists man. He'd have to average 20 or 30 the rest of the season. He's only going to be known for one thing — he's going to be the winningest player to ever play here. It should happen if we take care of business.
"His legacy is wins."
To the ultimate team player, it would be an honor to share.
"It would just show how much hard work, not just me but my teammates around me and coach, have put in," Collins said. "I don't think about it much, unless somebody reminds me of it. Then I see how cool it could be."
With 36 wins and help from the NCAA, he might also become the winningest college player ever in a four-year period. That distinction is now held by former Memphis players Antonio Anderson, Robert Dozier and Chance McGrady. They were part of 137 victories. But pending the school's appeal this week, the NCAA could order 38 of those wins erased.
Whatever honors come to Collins, Stacey Harris will be there to watch in person. She's had her own apartment in Lawrence since last October, but still spends plenty of time with her dutiful son.
"Having her here keeps my mind off a lot of things," Collins said. "Her doing my laundry and cooking all the time, that's even more better."
So is Sherron Collins just a mama's boy?
"I'm a mama's boy," he said. "Yes, I am a mama's boy."
Once again, nobody argued. Or even laughed.