Andre Collins knows there will always be some type of crime on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
But that hasn’t stopped the former basketball player and national champion from playing his part in helping lower the crime rate.
In 2017, the current James M. Bennett High School (Salisbury, Maryland) boys hoops coach introduced the Andre Collins Celebrity Charity Basketball game — an event aimed at bringing attention to gun and gang violence, drug activity and bullying on the Shore. A native of the area, Collins has always been passionate about giving back to his community.
Come Aug. 10, the event will hit its third year and has adopted the named “Dre Day.” Well known local and national athletes and figures are expected to attend the game, which will be held at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center.
“The Eastern Shore means a lot to me. If it didn’t, I would have never moved back home,” Collins said. “These kids around here need to understand if you set a goal and believe in it, it’s possible. It’s not just about bringing awareness — it’s also about bringing some positivity and motivation.”
Collins began his hoops career at Crisfield (Maryland) High School, helping the program win a state championship in 2000. He later played at the University of Maryland College Park and Loyola University, helping the former to a national title in 2002.
Collins went on to play professionally overseas before returning to the Shore as a high school basketball coach and advocate for youth athletes. He recently founded “The Lab” training facility in Parsonsburg.
But Dre Day allows athletes and celebrities from around the country to travel to Salisbury and spread Collins’ message.
“The big names are to try and make sure people will come out to hear this message,” he said. “These guys feel strongly about the message behind the event. They love kids and want to make sure they don’t do drugs, bully or pick up a gun.”
In the past, professional athletes like Ben Tate and Quinn Cook have been featured at the event. Former NFL quarterback Michael Vick was scheduled to appear at the first Dre Day but never showed.
For Year 3, Collins has compiled a list of notable figures and local stars.
Celebrities such as rapper Trinidad James, Instagram star Young Dylan and dance sensation Russell Horning, better known as Backpack Kid, are all set to attend the game.
Former NBA point guard Steve Francis, who attended Maryland, will also take the court as part of the annual all-star game. He will be joined by former West Virginia women’s basketball player Chania Ray.
“I couldn’t be more excited with where the event is now, the lineup we have and the buzz that’s going on around it,” Collins said. “I think it’s going to be great.”