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John Collins set to participate in 2019 dunk contest

It’s official.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Minnesota Timberwolves Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: The NBA officially announced the participants on Tuesday, with Collins being joined by Thunder guard Hamidou Diallo, Hornets forward Miles Bridges and Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr.

During his rookie season, there was plenty of buzz that Atlanta Hawks big man John Collins should garner a spot in the 2018 NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest. In the end, however, the high-flyer from Wake Forest was left out of the mix in favor of Larry Nance Jr., Donovan Mitchell, Victor Oladipo and (injured) returning champion Aaron Gordon.

Eventually, Mitchell emerged victorious but, in 2019, Collins will reportedly have a chance to break through with participation of his own. (Note: This story originally included a now-deleted tweet)

The 21-year-old is enjoying something of a breakout season, averaging 19.5 points (on 59 percent shooting) and nine rebounds per game. Collins missed the start of the 2018-19 season as a result of an ankle injury but, since then, he has operated as Atlanta’s best player while electrifying with his athleticism and finishing ability around the rim. Collins also ranks near the top of the league in dunks per game, prominently making his case on a regular basis.

Traditionally, it can be difficult for true big men to have overwhelming success in the Dunk Contest but, in Collins’ case, he is a special athlete that has shown a proclivity for highlight-worthy dunks in the past. It will be interesting to see when (and if) official word breaks on his inclusion (along with his invite to the Rising Stars Challenge) but, for now, Hawks fans will be further circling Saturday, Feb. 16 on their calendar for a chance to see Collins (and teammate Trae Young) put on a show in Charlotte.

Stay tuned.