Brian Collins has been passionate about the game of basketball throughout his life.

He is hoping fans in Northeast Ohio share his passion for the game that has taken the world by storm in recent years.

The 2005 Stow-Munroe Falls graduate is bringing professional basketball back to the Akron area.

Collins, a 6-foot-7 center who played basketball at Webster University in St. Louis, is the owner of the Akron Aviators.

The Aviators recently were added to the American Basketball Association's large expansion for the upcoming 2017-18 season.

Collins, who played hoops for Stow before switching to volleyball during his final two years of high school, is a co-owner of the Aviators, along with Pittsburgh native Tijuan Washington.

"I've always been a fan of basketball," Collins said. "This past year, I had a partnership with the American Basketball Association to do concerts, after-parties and promotional events."

Collins owns Royal Heir Entertainment in Stow and has worked with hip-hop artists Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Big Sean, Machine Gun Kelly and Chance the Rapper.

"The music industry has been great," Collins said. "I always wanted to expand into sports to some capacity. I was excited to try something different."

Collins got to know Washington, who is the CEO of the ABA's media and entertainment division, through his concerts and promotional events.

Washington owns current ABA teams, the Owensboro (Ky.) Colonels and the Louisiana United. He also is the former owner of the ABA's Steel City Yellow Jackets in Pittsburgh.

"I had been thinking about it for awhile," Collins said. "I thought, 'Man, it would be cool to have an ABA team.' Once [the ABA] offered me an opportunity, I had places and people in mind."

Collins said he made the decision right before leaving the country.

"I sent over some paperwork right before I went to France," he said. "I got a lot of people involved in sports and decided, 'Yes, let's do it.'"

Collins spent a year playing basketball in Thailand. In high school, Collins helped lead the Stow boys volleyball team to a state tournament appearance.

The Aviators are planning to have tryouts Aug. 12 at the Balch Fitness Center in Akron (220 S. Balch Street). The tryouts are set to begin at 3 p.m.

Collins said the team is still seeking coaches, interns and other positions. He also said the team is still looking for a venue to host its games.

"We're excited to be part of the historic American Basketball Association," Collins said. "Before it simulated into the NBA, it had a lot of history of incredible players like Dr. J [Julius Erving] and Moses Malone. It had the slam-dunk and 3-point contests. We're excited to bring all of this to the city of Akron."


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