Kansas basketball legend Sherron Collins has been hired to lead the Free State High boys basketball program starting next season, pending board approval.
Collins, 35, replaces former Free State coach Sam Stroh, who resigned earlier this spring to get out of coaching altogether.
“I’m so excited to be the head coach of the boys basketball program at Free State,” Collins said in a news release announcing the move. “I’m so grateful for the opportunity to help our boys both on and off the court. I can’t wait to get to work.”
A native of Chicago, Collins had a standout career at KU from 2007-2010. He was a key part of the 2008 national championship team and then helped the Jayhawks transition from that squad as a key leader on the 2008-09 and 2009-10 teams that combined to win 60 games.
He earned All-American honors in both 2009 (second team) and 2010 (consensus first team) and also was a two-time first team all-Big 12 performer. In 2008, he earned the Big 12’s Sixth Man of the Year award and his No. 4 jersey was retired by KU in 2018.
Outgoing FSHS Athletic Director Amanda Faunce, who is moving to a new administrative role at the school starting July 1, was a part of the group that hired Collins. She said Tuesday that Collins was one of five people who interviewed for the job. She also said outgoing FSHS principal Myron Graber, along with new principal, Amy McAnarney, and new AD,
Jered Shaw, also were involved in the hiring process that landed Collins.
“It was the four of us,” she said. “It really was a collaborative effort by everyone involved in the process, and it was easy for us to reach this decision.”
Although he has limited experience as a coach on the sidelines, Faunce said Collins’ high basketball IQ and recent experience coaching AAU basketball made the group comfortable with offering him the job.
“I think it was part of the conversation,” Faunce said of Collins’ experience. “But, honestly, he was the point guard of a Division I national championship basketball team. I think anyone who understands basketball knows he was coaching at that point.”
Kansas coach Bill Self was listed as one of Collins’ references and Faunce said Graber reached out to Self during the hiring process.
“He spoke very highly of coach Self and how much he taught him and mentored him both on and off the court,” Faunce said of Collins. “Of course we’re excited to have him join the staff, but we’re most excited because of how he did in his interview. He really emphasized the importance of community and how he wants to work with our athletes and shape them into great young men. He made a point to say that he really wants to give back to the sport that gave him the life he has now.”
Collins is one of two new varsity head coaches within the Free State High basketball programs.
Earlier this spring, Summer Frantz, a 2013 FSHS graduate and an assistant coach for the Firebirds since 2019, was named the head coach of the FSHS girls program, also pending board approval.
She becomes the first female to lead the FSHS girls basketball program.
“I am incredibly grateful and excited for the opportunity to lead the Free State girls basketball program,” Frantz said in a news release. “We have a lot of work to do and I can't wait to get back in the gym with our players and get started.”
Although both hires still need board approval, Faunce said she was thrilled that both programs have identified coaches that they believe are the right fit for the future of Free State basketball.
“I’m most excited for our student-athletes,” she said. “They know who the recommendations are for both programs and both sets of kids are really excited to be in the gym this summer to start working with and getting to know their new coaches.”