Collins, 48, comes to UMES from Winston-Salem State, where he was named head coach in 2006. His last four Rams teams averaged nearly 20 wins per season and qualified for the NCAA Division II tournament in 2011, '12 and '13.
"It feels like I'm coming home, professionally," Collins said. "I'm looking forward to the challenge of re-engaging with some of my old friends and rivals in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference."
Collins is no stranger to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Before taking the Winston-Salem State job, he was head coach for four years at Hampton, where he was the MEAC's 2005 coach of the year. His team won the conference tournament the following season, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
"The university has an opportunity to hire an outstanding coach. He's an even finer person," UMES athletics director Keith Davidson said. "He has a proven record of success at his previous institutions."
Collins was Hampton's assistant head coach in 2001 when the 15th-seeded Pirates pulled off one of the most memorable upsets in NCAA tournament history, defeating second-seeded Iowa State. Two years later, he was promoted to the head-coaching position at Hampton and established a school record for most wins by a first-year coach.
"He's had great coaching experiences where he's worked previously," Davidson said. "He's an excellent recruiter who has great relationships with players and we believe he's the right person for our program."
The university and Collins agreed to a four-year contract with a base salary of $135,000.
Collins teaches an offense that puts a high value on fast-break scoring and he believes in employing man-to-man defense roughly two thirds of the time.
He told the UMES search committee he expects his players to be "the hardest-working team in the country," and to follow a strict code of conduct off the court, including taking caps off when indoors and when traveling.
"We are excited that Coach Collins has accepted the opportunity to lead our men's basketball program," president Juliette B. Bell said. "He has demonstrated that he is a proven winner and a role model when it comes to guiding student-athletes on and off the court. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore and its Hawk Nation welcome him to our 'nest.' "
In his 12 years as a head coach at two universities, Collins has compiled a 181-171 record, including his first three years at Winston-Salem State when he was trying to position the basketball program to compete at the Division 1 level. He scheduled road games against the likes of Georgetown, Notre Dame, Kansas and crosstown neighbor Wake Forest of the Atlantic Coast Conference.