The first time a big man named Coleman came out of Syracuse, he was an All-American in college and an NBA All-Star.
Now, head coach Jim Boeheim will get the closest thing to Derrick Coleman, as five-star center DaJuan Coleman committed to the Orange on Tuesday afternoon during a press conference at his high school.
"The school I'll be attending this coming fall will be . . . ," Coleman said, before donning a Syracuse hat. He said that he has known he wanted to pick the Orange for the last month, but took visits to Ohio State and Kentucky just to make sure.
"I wanted to make the right decision," he said.
While DaJuan Coleman has no blood relation to Derrick Coleman, they have similar build and both are legends in Upstate New York. The elder Coleman did his damage at the college level, but the high school version has dominated at Jamesville-Dewitt (N.Y.) for years.
Make no mistake; this was a recruit Syracuse could not afford to lose.
Coleman was right in the Orange’s backyard, and had been on the Syracuse campus a number of times. His high school teammate, Brandon Triche, is currently a starting guard for Boeheim, and the Orange have been the favorite since the beginning for Coleman’s services.
"It's close to home," Coleman said. "Hanging out with the players, they made me feel like I was home."
Moreover, whenever Kentucky’s involved, the smart money seems to always be on John Calipari and the Wildcats. In head-to-head battles over the past few years, Calipari has rarely lost, racking up the top recruiting class in the country more often than not. For Syracuse to defend its home territory and beat Kentucky – and Ohio State – for a five-star recruit, it’s a big win for the Orange.
As for Coleman, he should make an immediate impact for the Orange. With Fab Melo potentially leaving after this coming year, and Baye Moussa Keita and Rakeem Christmas very raw offensively, Coleman will add a dimension Syracuse will be lacking.
The No. 9-ranked recruit in CBSSports.com’s class of 2012, Coleman is a 6-foot-9 center who is one of the more dominant low-post prospects in the country. He carves out space down low with his mammoth, 280-lb. body. Once he gets position, his good hands and assortment of moves make him difficult to stop with his back to the basket. He rebounds extremely well in his area, and controls the lane defensively. Coleman has improved his passing and face-up game, but he still needs to get in better shape on a consistent basis.
"A double-double guy every game," Coleman said.
With his talent level and potential, Syracuse could have its next All-America big man – and his last name just happens to be Coleman.
Photo: Syracuse Post-Standard