Brian “Penny” Collins has experienced the NCAA Tournament as an assistant coach and player, and he now aims to help Illinois State make the Big Dance in his new role as an ISU assistant coach, head coach Dan Muller announced Monday.
“I have known Penny since he was in high school and have watched him grow in the business,” Muller said. “Penny has won everywhere he has been and will bring that winning attitude along with a ton of energy to our program. I can’t wait to start working with Coach Collins.”
As an assistant coach at East Tennessee State during the 2016-17 season, Collins helped the Bucs win the Southern Conference Tournament and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. ETSU posted a 27-8 overall record and won a share of the SoCon regular-season title with a 14-4 league mark. Collins also led Belmont to the NCAA Tournament as a player in 2006.
“I am thrilled to join Dan Muller’s staff,” Collins said. “I have known Dan for many years and have always followed his program. Dan has instilled a winning culture here at ISU that I, along with the staff, intend to build on. This is a great opportunity to work for an established head coach, top notch program, great facility and superb fan base with high expectations to compete for championships.”
A 2006 graduate of Belmont, Collins served as the head coach at Columbia State for three seasons (2012-15) before joining East Tennessee State. Collins led the Chargers to the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association regional championship game in his final two seasons and won the 2014-15 tournament title. In his final two years at Columbia State, Collins’ teams compiled a 54-11 overall record and made back-to-back appearances in the National Junior College Tournament. In 2014-15, Collins coached two NJCAA All-Americans.
Before coming to Columbia State, Collins worked three seasons as an assistant coach at Cumberland University following a two-year stint as a graduate assistant and director of basketball operations at Tennessee State. Prior to coaching, Collins played professionally overseas in Finland for the Kouvot Bears. He also played in the NBA Developmental League for the Bakersfield Jam.
As a four-year starter at point guard and a two-year captain, Collins played for coach Rick Byrd at Belmont from 2003-06, helping the Bruins compile 72 wins over a four-year span, including the program’s first-ever National Invitation Tournament (NIT) appearance in 2004 and the school’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2006. Collins scored over 1,000 points and left Belmont as the all-time leader in assists and steals during the Division I era.
Collins received a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Belmont in 2006 and a master’s degree in sports administration from Tennessee State in 2009. He is married to Lakeya Collins, and they have one son: History Collins.