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2017 NIKE EYBL Coach of the Year: Marshall Collins

By Alec Kinsky, 07/25/17, 12:15PM EDT


Collins' patience paid off in a big way, as did his years of coaching experience. Entering the fourth EYBL session with a 5-7 record, Collins took over the position from Ben Braun, who was moved to a management position within the Soldiers organization.

The Soldiers needed some new life. They needed energy, passion - and most importantly - wins. It was on Collins to turn it around, and he had the buy in from his team immediately.

The Soldiers went 4-0 in Los Angeles, qualifying for Peach Jam on the final day of the season. They clicked as a unit under Collins, who had the offense rolling and the defense on par with the league's best. They qualified for Peach Jam, but they weren't close to satisfied.

Collins rode an eight-man rotation to a 3-2 record in Pool Play, highlighted by numerous inspired effort by point guard James Akinjo - the eventual Peach Jam Most Valuable Player. The entire Soldiers’ rotation stepped up their play, and if you were to ask them, all the credit goes to Collins.

“He’s one of the best AAU coaches ever,” Soldiers’ star big man Taeshon Cherry concluded. “He needs all the credit.”

Like the modest individual that he is, Collins deflected the credit, giving all the love to his players.

“I’m so proud of these guys,” Collins explained. They bought in and no one expected them to win.”

“They came together so much.”

The Soldiers’ cohesion began instantly after Collins took over, and by the time they reached the Peach Jam Championship, the Soldiers’ new head man knew he had something special at his disposal.

“We were focused,” Collins said. “I broke down the film, we woke up, went through our routine. I didn’t even have to say anything.”

“They were locked in.”

Locked in they were, as they lead Team Takeover from start to finish in the Peach Jam Championship game.

The Soldiers’ win makes them the first program to win two EYBL Championships, with their first being in 2012.

It’s a safe bet that they’re not done winning quite yet. Why? Because Collins is going nowhere, all you have to do is ask him.

“I’m a Soldier for life."

Check out the Soldiers' Championship win below:

Session Awards

Player Interviews

Video Mixtapes