Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Collins' Career Has Glaring Omission

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Collins' Career Has Glaring Omission

Article excerpt

James Collins was watching the NCAA Tournament on television

yesterday when his voice suddenly rose several octaves as he

watched the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga celebrating its

victory over Illinois.

"My man, Marquis!" Collins bellowed. "Look at my man!"

Indeed, there was Marquis Collier, an unheralded player from

Raines High, getting some national exposure on CBS. Collier and

his fellow Moccasins were whooping it up as they danced their

way into the Sweet 16.

"I'm really happy for him, that's great," Collins said.

It was a sincere remark. And terribly ironic.

Here was this long-forgotten guy from Jacksonville living one

of the greatest dreams of any college basketball player. And

there sat Collins, the 1993 Mr. Basketball in the state of

Florida, with nothing on his postseason resume to show for his

time at Florida State except this year's National Invitation

Tournament (FSU plays host to Michigan State tonight in a

secondround NIT game).

Incredibly, Collins will leave FSU without ever showcasing his

splendid athleticism in an NCAA Tournament. For a guy pursuing a

criminology degree and with a nickname of Jesse James, that

really is a crime.

"If you had told me four years ago that I'd never go to the

NCAAs, I would have said you're crazy," said Collins. "But

that's the way life is. You just have to accept it.

"The NIT? It's OK, I guess."

Yeah, but it's hardly the way one of Jacksonville's hoops

legends would have scripted it.

Four years ago, when Collins' glorious career at Jackson High

ended with him walking off the Tallahassee Leon Civic County

floor as a state champion, everything was right on schedule. The

next summer, Collins was named MVP at the U.S. Olympic Festival.

His basketball future held about as much promise as anyone who

ever came out of Jacksonville. When he left Southside Junior

High, there was so much uproar over where Collins would attend

high school, he held a news conference to make the announcement. …

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