When Jay Collins settles into his new job in Powell, he hopes to bring a new roster in his luggage.
Collins, the new coach of the Northwest College men’s basketball team, assumed his position June 1, but won’t be fully moved in until August.
In the meantime, he will be recruiting new players for a team that finished 10-21 last season and returns few players.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Collins said. “I’ll be trying to convince players to come with me to Powell.”
At the moment, he believes only one scholarship player, guard Kyle Brown, will return, though some other redshirts may.
“I feel he’ll be a perfect fit,” said Northwest athletic director Brian Erickson. “He loves the junior college level with the development of kids.”
Last winter, Collins coached his old high school team, sort of a gap job before returning to college ball. For six seasons prior to that he was an assistant coach at Idaho State University, an NCAA Division I school in the Big Sky Conference.
Collins spent two seasons playing at Cochise College in Arizona and then played Division I ball at Southern Utah. He also played briefly in the NBA Development League, now the G League.
Louis Wilson, currently the coach at the University of Texas at Tyler, has known Collins for years.
“He was a very good basketball player,” Wilson said. “He’s a good dude.”
Prior to his stay at Idaho State, Collins also spent two years as an assistant at Northern Arizona.
From his own standpoint and a Northwest player standpoint, Collins said, “I think it’s going to be a fresh start. It’s an opportunity.”
One thing Collins brings to the task is a strong background in recruiting. He said he was the recruiting coordinator during his time at Idaho State.
“He’s a very bright guy,” Wilson said. “He has a very good energy about him. He was a good recruiter.”
Wilson and Collins both have ties to Southern Utah and Idaho State through former head coach Bill Evans at both places.
“We’re both Bill Evans guys,” Wilson said. “We’re in that coaching tree together.”
Another coach on the Idaho State staff was Andy Ward. Ward is a former NWC athletic director and men’s basketball coach and Collins said he told him positive things about Powell and the school.
Erickson was Ward’s successor as Trapper coach. Erickson also previously got to know Collins by overlapping on the recruiting trail.
“The coaching circle,” Erickson said. “It’s amazing how people know each other. You’re one person away from knowing every coach.”
Erickson became Northwest’s athletic director at the start of the 2018-19 school year and the Trappers hired Dawud Akbar-Rahkman as an interim coach. After the season, Northwest reopened its search and hired Collins.
Collins was aware of Erickson’s recent success, including taking one Northwest team to the national junior college quarterfinals with a 31-5 record. That team featured Chris Boucher, now playing for the Toronto Raptors in the NBA finals.
“They have the resources there to win,” Collins said, speaking of that type of Northwest history.
While some may think Collins is starting at a deficit in hurriedly recruiting new players as summer approaches, he thinks it can be done.
“I don’t think that it’s too late,” Collins said.