Andre Armstrong's journey to a Division I scholarship featured as many stops and starts as the Brooklyn/Queens Expressway.
After four solid years at Forest Hills, it included one year of prep school at Notre Dame Prep, two junior college years at Monroe Community College and a verbal commitment to Maine. The talented shooting guard’s plan was to attend Maine after one year at Monroe, but the NCAA red-flagged his transcript, forcing Armstrong to do a second year at the JUCO.
Armstrong’s Division I goal was finally realized on Tuesday as the 6-foot-2 Flushing, Queens native signed with Coppin State of the MEAC conference.
Monroe Community College Athletics
Former Forest Hills standout Andre Armstrong of Monroe Community College signed with Coppin State on Tuesday.
“I was relieved, finally after everything,” he said. “I’m very excited. I went through a lot to go to where I’m at. A lot of people doubted me, said I couldn’t play at this level. A lot of people were trying to force me to go Division II. I felt I deserved a chance to play Division I.”
Armstrong will get that chance at Coppin State.
He chose the Eagles over Hofstra and Norfolk State. After graduating seven seniors, including leading scorers Akeem Elis and Tony Gallo, Armstrong will be given an opportunity to make an immediate impact at Coppin State, which went 14-16 last year.
“I’ve been the underdog before – at Forest Hills I was the underdog,” he said. “I’ll continue that there.”
He was drawn to Coppin State by 26th-year head coach Ron Mitchell. Armstrong liked the way Mitchell uses his guards, the freedom they have in the Eagles' up-tempo system.
“It’s a shooter’s offense, he uses his shooters very well,” Armstrong said. “I watched film highlights when I was there and I liked the way they play with their guards. I like their overall style of play. He rewards hard work, that’s another thing I liked about him. That’s where I fit in."
Armstrong enjoyed a solid two-year career at Monroe after a standout four seasons at Forest Hills, which he led to a Queens borough title as a senior. He also shined at Monroe, averaging 11 points per game this winter.
“He’s a kid you give the ball to and he really can score the basketball,” Monroe coach Jerry Burns said. “He did everything we asked of him. His career was just as a JUCO career should be: two years, you get a Division I scholarship.”
Armstrong was all set to go to Maine after one year at Monroe, thinking he was fully qualified. The NCAA red-flagged him because his SAT score increased at a large rate.
“I was disappointed, but it was out of my hands, there was nothing I could do about it,” he recalled. “It was a setback, but it wasn’t a major setback. I was still able to do what I set out to do to begin with.”
Armstrong isn’t content to merely be on his way to Division I. He’s proven his doubters wrong by gaining the scholarship, but he plans to make an impact.
“Now I’m there,” he said, “It’s time to prove I can play.”
Monroe Community College, Monroe, Coppin State, Forest Hills, Andre Armstrong, Flushing, Queens native, Notre Dame Prep, Community College, Maine