FIU Basketball’s Bernie Andre’s pinned post on his Twitter profile says, “A year from now, I will be getting ready to enter the NBA.” And quite frankly, he’s moved all across the country in hopes of achieving his dream.
Born and raised in North Miami Beach, Andre’s collegiate career has been a cross-country odyssey. After attending Miami Norland High School, he made the move to Combine Academy in North Carolina, one of the most prestigious prep programs in the country.
From NC, Andre made his way to DII Mercy College in New York, where he would redshirt a year and later head to the south and transfer to Wallace State, a Junior College in Alabama. He started in 28 games, averaging 12.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game before moving to the west coast and enroll at DI Northern Arizona University.
Andre made the most of his first season playing Division 1 basketball, as he earned 2018-19 Big Sky Newcomer of the Year and was named to the All-Big Sky Third Team after leading NAU with 13.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per contest. As a redshirt junior, the 6-foot-6, 210-pounder was an All-Big Sky Honorable Mention thanks to his 11.2 points and 6.6 rebounds.
After back-to-back winning seasons, Andre entered the transfer portal once again, where he would garner over 35 Division-1 offers, according to SLAM Magazine writer Rodger Bohn. In March 2020, he moved to the North and joined the University of Vermont basketball program.
Soon after, COVID-19 struck the country and served as a major setback for Andre.
“It’s been a crazy year for me,” he said. “From the season getting ended at NAU earlier this year to me transferring to Vermont and for three months, two of those months we couldn’t even do anything due to COVID.”
In November, Andre’s brief tenure at Vermont came to an end, as he left the program due to “personal issues back home.” And as all feel-good story’s end, Andre chose to return to his hometown and suit up for the FIU Panthers, he announced on December 11.
“Coming back home was a big influence for me,” Andre said. “I feel like being home and staying comfortable again was a big thing for me. When the opportunity arose, I had a few schools contact me, but I felt like staying home was the best decision for me.”
FIU was one of Andre’s top choices when he entered the transfer portal for the first time this year. And after talks with assistant coach Jesse Bopp and graduate assistant Colin Campbell, Andre chose the Panthers.
“I’m familiar with their coaching staff and I created a relationship with them before,” he said. “It was a no brainer to be able to go somewhere where I was already familiar with the people and some of the players.”
Andre is close friends with former FIU star Osasumwen Osaghae, as the two shared the court against NBA and professional talent at the Miami Pro-Am League in 2019. They held their own versus players such as Miami Heat All-Star center Bam Adebayo and Portland Trailblazers forward Derrick Jones Jr. Andre also recalls facing off against Antonio Daye, FIU’s leading scorer in 2020.
Andre, a mid-season transfer, will be eligible to play for the Panthers this season. He’s already been added to FIU’s official men’s basketball roster and is expected to be deemed eligible by the time conference play begins.
“It feels good to know that despite all of the stuff I’ve been through these past couple of months, I still have a chance to play right away, which would be amazing,” Andre said.
When cleared, the Panthers will gain a multi-skilled player. Andre shot 44.9 percent from the field on 158-352 total shooting last season at NAU and went 29-88 (33.0%) from beyond the arc. At 6-foot-6, he’s FIU’s third-tallest player and provides the ability to defend both guards and forwards.
Andre’s offensive play-style revolves around the rim, as he’s able to score consistently off the dribble and on fastbreaks. His rebounding ability will immediately benefit the Panthers, which ranks 13th out of 14 teams in the Conference USA in defensive rebounds per game.
“Whatever the coach asks me to play, that’s what I’m going to play,” Andre said. “I’m a very versatile player, I can play guard, I can play forward. I’m known as a ‘Swiss Army Knife’ because I can play inside and outside.
It’s been a long road for Andre, but he’s finally back to his roots and excited to excell at FIU.
“It’s been a long journey, but I feel like I’m at the right school and I’m ready to work here.”