The senior guard could have gone to Duke four years ago but stuck with the coach he’d...
AUSTIN — The wiry eighth grader looked so confident on the court. Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart loved that about Matt Coleman.
The kid wasn’t impressive in stature. Didn’t have a mixtape filled with dazzling 360s or ankle-snapping crossovers. But Coleman was quick and savvy and tenacious. He played with the demeanor of a floor general and enough of a shoulder chip to compensate for not being a rim-destroying athlete like Russell Westbrook or ball-on-a-string marksman like Steph Curry.
Smart and Coleman soon became thick as thieves after meeting on the AAU circuit and planned to join forces at VCU in 2017.
But Smart couldn’t pass up an offer from Texas to replace Rick Barnes in April 2015, and the spindly middle schooler-turned-Oak Hill Academy (Va.) standout’s future soon became hazy.
He had a decision to make. He could stay on the East Coast and play for coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, or follow Smart to Austin. On Jan. 16, 2017, Coleman committed to Texas.