Jay Collins, Farmington prep basketball star and coach, dead at 41

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times
Jay Collins courtside at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming

FARMINGTON − Jay Collins, former basketball star on and off the court for the Farmington High School Scorpions, and a coach at Northwest College in Wyoming, passed away at his home in Powell, Wyoming on Sunday, July 31. He was 41 years old.

Collins' passing was confirmed by Northwest College, where he had served as men's basketball coach for the past three seasons after previously having coached at FHS and having spent six years as an assistant coach at Idaho State University.

Collins played for the Scorpions during the Marv Sanders era, from 1996-1999 before going on to play college basketball at Cochise College in Douglas, Arizona, from 1999-2001. He then played his final two collegiate seasons at Southern Utah University from 2001-2003.

Collins won multiple All-State honors as a player at FHS though the team never won a state title. When he returned as coach of the team in 2018, that was one of his main goals.

Former Farmington High School boys basketball coach Marv Sanders poses with former Navajo Prep boys basketball coach Rick Hoerner, left, and former Farmington High boys basketball player and coach Jay Collins, right, during the Marv Sanders Invitational in December of 2018.

“I want to go make amends for that,” Collins said at the time of his hiring. "I want us to be the aggressor on both ends and help the kids reach their potential."

Collins was an National Junior College All-American in the 2000-01 season at Cochise College in Arizona, leading his team to the national tournament. He also set the single season school record for assists when he played Southern Utah University.

The Facebook page for Farmington High School's boys basketball team paid respect to Collins early Tuesday morning with a post.

"Jay was a great basketball player at Farmington High, certainly one of the best to ever come out of our program. We were lucky to have him here at FHS for one season before he went to Wyoming to again coach at the college level. Jay loved coaching and players loved being coached by him."

Collins played professionally for the Idaho Stampede in 2003 and signed multiple professional contracts overseas.

“(Collins) was a well-loved member of the Trapper family,” Northwest College athletic director Brian Erickson said in a statement. “His love for coaching basketball was second only to his love for his wife, Sheila, and the family dogs. Jay brought passion to his work, often with a light heart and an easy smile. He will be greatly missed.”

Northwest College president Lisa Watson said in an email to all Northwest students and staff that college officials have been trying to communicate with players in the men’s basketball program, but few details about moving forward with the program are known at this time.

“As we mourn this untimely loss, let us come together in our support of Sheila and family, Jay’s Trapper basketball players, our students and each other,” Watson said.

When Collins coached at FHS, one of his greatest achievements was sending his team onto the floor to beat Navajo Prep in the championship game of the Marv Sanders Invitational tournament, coaching against one of his mentors as a coach and player, Rick Hoerner.

Hoerner, who was an assistant coach at FHS when Collins was a player, recalled Collins as a fierce competitor as a player and coach.

"He was driven to succeed, and he was good at it," Hoerner recalled. "I can't imagine it was easy to recruit for a small college in Wyoming, but I can bet you he got the most out of those guys every single game."

Hoerner watched Collins as a player from the time he was 11 years old, playing at the elementary school level and later in middle school.

"There have only been a handful of players in this area who had true Division I potential," Hoerner recalled. "He was definitely one of those kids at the time we had the pleasure of watching him play."

Collins recalled the experience of later coaching against Hoerner in the Sanders Invitational.

"It was an incredible experience all around," Collins said. "To be able to coach against someone who'd coached me since I was a kid and to be able to do that in front of the legend himself at his tournament."

Funeral arrangements for Collins had not been set as of press time. No cause of death was listed.