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Andre Collins has been selected to receive the prestigious Jefferson Award for community service. The award, created in 1972 by the American Institute for Public Services, is managed locally by WBOC …
Andre Collins has been selected to receive the prestigious Jefferson Award for community service. The award, created in 1972 by the American Institute for Public Services, is managed locally by WBOC and presented each year to unrecognized citizens on Delmarva who provide extraordinary public service.
Andre, a 2000 graduate of Crisfield High School, has been active in community youth projects since his retirement from professional basketball in 2016, organizing and conducting youth basketball camps.
Andre was a success at every level on the basketball court and remembers the advice and encouragement he received from the community — and it was time to give back.
“I’ve had people close to me, working with me from my days in youth leagues to my college days,” he said. “My parents, (brother) Andy, my grandparents, Warren Ward, uncle Buck.” Collins included mentor Tony Yates, Ray Jones and all his teammates as well.
Andre’s high school coach the late Phill Rayfield was a special person in his life. “Words can’t express, I want to give him proper respect but I can’t put it into words,” he said.
Rayfield first discovered Andre when he joined the Saturday Morning Youth League and he was impressive at that age. He would go on to join his brother Andy, then a senior on the CHS varsity team in 1997. Crisfield made it to College Park but lost in the semis.
Andre was driven to succeed, to excel, and he had a work ethic unmatched as Rayfield consistently verified. He was selected First Team All South his sophomore year, receiving the same accolades in 1999 and 2000 when he was selected as Player of the Year both seasons, one of only three Bayside athletes to do so. He holds every career and seasonal scoring record at CHS including single season average (30.5) and career points (2191), Crisfield’s only 2000 point scorer.
Andre capped off his CHS career by leading the Crabbers to a State title and was picked to play in the 27th Capital Classic, his jersey given a place of honor in the CHS display case. Then off to Hargrave Academy and in the summer of 2001 he signed to play at the University of Maryland, College Park.
He was a member of the Terps 2002 NCAA national championship team. He left UM the following year, transferring to Loyola where in 2006 he was the fourth leading scorer in Division I with an average of 26.1 points per game.
He would sign to play professionally with Carife Ferrara of Italy’s Lega Serie Division, retiring after the 2016 season.
Andre formed The Lab in 2018 along with Amber Elliott, herself a Division I player at UMES. The Lab became Xposure Athletics with the motto “Our passion is Basketball.” Andre coached briefly at James M. Bennett and CHS, he now puts his full attention to Xposure Athletes and Downtown Sneaks, his Crisfield store.
On Feb. 4 Andre was directed to the Crisfield American Legion where he thought he was receiving an award from the post. He was greeted by a large contingent of family and friends and local officials.
Roberta Whittington, a family friend opened the celebration with prayer and Donald Waters, post commander, welcomed the celebrators, stating how proud the community was of Andre, a local hero that the kids look up to.
Mayor Darlene Taylor welcomed Andre on behalf of the City of Crisfield: “One of our own, a role model, one of our own to excel.” City Council members LaVerne Johnson, Charlotte Scott and Casey Goldsbourgh were in attendance also along with County Commissioner Randy Laird, who said, “we thank you for all you do for our community.”
Andre has recently formed the nonprofit Project Xposure where he has brought together top players from Maryland and Delaware. They will journey to Italy in April.
“I knew you when you were little, we’ve followed you through the years and I want you to know how proud we are of you,” said Margo Green-Gale, a retired educator.
Pictures of Andre, illustrating his past experiences at all levels, decorated the meeting room, many of the guests had photographs taken with him and his family.
“I’m very proud, always knew his dreams would come true,” said brother Andy. Andre’s father Andrew who played at Washington High, told a story about when he coached his son in the high school summer league.
“Mr. Rayfield asked me if I would coach and one game Andre was scoring, he told me ‘I’m on fire.’ I said you’ve got to pass the ball, he didn’t, so I benched him.” Probably the only time Andre has been benched, however, he went on to become quite an adroit and accomplished point guard even though he preferred playing on the wing.
In his senior year he averaged 30.5 points per game with 8.8 assists per game. No Bayside player with an average over 14 points per game has ever been credited with that many assists in a season. That’s how special Andre was, just one of the reasons the community nominated him for this very special award.
“It is a dream come true, we’re all so very proud of you,” said Andre’s mother, Romaine, a sentiment echoed by the entire Crisfield community. He was nominated by his aunt, Sharon Wilson.
Andre wrote later to his Facebook followers that he thanks God for choosing him to do this type of work and that “It’s a Privilege & Honor.” He also said he doesn’t like surprises but when WBOC’s Rachel Pierce ran up to him with a microphone accompanied by a cameraman, “I didn’t know what was going on.”
“Let me tell y’all — you guys got me good.” “So what, I might’ve cried a lil’ bit lol.”