Officially signing paperwork with the American Basketball Association in May of 2017, Brian
Collins, professionally known as Essince, reflects on how he started his journey from basketball player to fan to team owner.
From Fandom to Player
Essince has always been seen as a global citizen. Born in Tegucigalpa in the mid-80s, he was adopted to a midwestern family in northeast Ohio. A basketball fan from infancy, Essince remembers watching basketball with his dad. “I used to sit on my dad’s lap and watch Kentucky play,” he says. “It was there I caught the basketball bug and I have been a fan ever since.”
Standing 6’6″ today, Essince started playing basketball in early Parks & Rec teams in second grade and continued to play on all the city AAU and school teams into high school. But it wasn’t until studying abroad in college that he developed the management skills that he uses today.
Essince earned his BA in Audio Engineering from Webster University in St. Louis, MO. He opted not to try out for the college team to have more holiday time with his family. “I hated watching and not playing,” he recalls. “But I knew the team couldn’t go home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and that was a dealbreaker for me.” It was during a study abroad program in Thailand his junior year that he began to prepare himself for who he is today. A friend and fellow American student, Chris Warren, discovered a cash basketball tournament in Hua Hin, where they lived and studied, and they assembled a team. Essince led practices, created plays, designed the team’s uniforms, and successfully convinced the school to purchase the uniforms and provide student transportation to the games. He was unknowingly training himself to be a team owner ten years later.
In 2016 Essince was introduced to someone from the ABA, the iconic American Basketball Association from the 1960s-70s had reformed in 2000 and now consists of over 150 minor league men’s teams across the United States, with branches in Mexico, Canada, Australia, and a team in Japan. The introduction was initially based on music. Essince utilized his award-winning career as a music marketer and tour booker to book halftime performers, national anthem singers, and after-game parties. After providing services to the league for a year, he was offered a chance to start a team in Ohio, a state with no teams at the time. It was then the Akron Aviators were formed. “When I was thinking of the name, I wanted to honor the state, Ohio is the birthplace of Aviation. Plus, my grandpa helped build dirigibles during WW2 and was a star basketball player in high school, so it was my way to honor him. Plus, I’m a fan of alliteration, so ‘Akron Aviators’ just felt right.”
The Akron Aviators played their inaugural season in the Lebron James Arena at St. Vincent St. Mary High School and are currently starting their fourth season in Akron. “Seven of our players have been drafted overseas, or to other leagues, point guard Malik Billingsley was reigning ABA three point and skills challenge champion for two seasons, and I’m proud to not only be a stepping stone but a home for players who want to live out their dreams of playing high-level basketball here,” he says.
He’s looking to form more partnerships for the team and the ABA as their president of Media and Entertainment. Applying what he’s learned in the entertainment business and life, Essince has his sights set high on where the team is going.
Learn more about Essince at https://flow.page/essince
Visit the Akron Aviators at www.akronaviators.com