PDT Sports Writer
In 1983, Gene Collins graduated from Portsmouth High School and went on to play collegiately at Shawnee State University.
Almost three decades later, his only child Len will follow his father’s footsteps as he signed Friday to play basketball for the Bears. The younger Collins is the sixth member of the 2011-2012 Trojan basketball team that finished as Division III State Runners-Up to sign on to play collegiately.
“I’ve told people this senior class is a really special class,” Gene Collins said. “Of the 12 seniors that I had, 11 are going on to college.”
The other five members who will play collegiate athletics are Zaide Whitley (Lake Erie College football), Mason Jordan (Wilmington College football), Kyle Ratcliff (University of Findlay football), Dion McKinley and Wayne Evans (University of Cincinnati-Clermont). McKinley and Evans also signed Friday.
“I just really wanted to have that home-like atmosphere and I felt like Shawnee was that place for me,” Len Collins said.
He chose Shawnee State over going to Ohio University, Ohio Weslyean and Otterbein for academics only. When he steps onto campus, he will major in business administration with a concentration in accounting or health administration.
For the elder Collins, who previously coached at SSU, time has flown by from the time where his son used to run around the floor during practices.
“It kinda came full circle,” Gene Collins said. “It gives me an opportunity to not only continue to coach but get a chance to see him play for a place that I played for and coached for and that’s truly special for me.”
In order to get playing time, Len Collins was told by Bears coach Jeff Hamilton to compete at all times. He has already been through off-season workouts and has noticed the change from high school to college.
“It’s a whole lot faster and it’ll be a transition,” Collins said. “I’ll get my feet wet and I’ll figure it out.”
Collins said he will miss the high school atmosphere he experienced during his time as a Trojan. As to the burning question whether or not he would join the coaching ranks, he was able to give a simple answer.
“Not happening,” Collins said. “Coaching has been brought up in conversations at dinner.”
He said that if the hypothetical does become a reality, he would coach on any level except for high school.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 242, or email@example.com.