Cal transfer Don Coleman is looking for a new home, and Baton Rouge could end up being his destination.
LSU is among the finalists to land Coleman, a sit-one, play-one transfer who led the Golden Bears in scoring a season ago as a junior.
Coleman posted 14.2 points per game for Cal in 2017-18, shooting 33 percent from the floor and 24 percent from 3. The 6-foot-2, 188-pound combo guard is among the most adept players available at getting to the free throw line, where he shot 74.5 percent last season.
Coleman ranked third in the Pac-12 in free throw rate (51.3) and second in fouls drawn per 40 minutes (6.4), averaging 6.6 attempts at the line per game, second in the conference and 2.2 more than LSU’s leader (Tremont Waters, 4.4).
“He’s tough,” says his brother, Dhrmaine Bradley. “He likes to drive to the basket. He’s streaky, but once he gets hot, that’s pretty much it. From 0 to 100, that’s how he plays. He’s real fearless on the court. He never backs down from anything.”
That includes stars like Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz, who Coleman spent time defending as a sophomore at Cal in 2016-17. He guarded Fultz, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft, for 19 minutes in a 69-59 win over Washington, helping hold the Huskies’ star to just 12 points on 3-of-15 shooting. He also guarded Ball for 22 minutes, helping keep him to 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting in a UCLA win.
“On the defensive end, when it’s time to lock in, he can do that too,” says Bradley.
He can score, too. This season, in Maui, as LSU knocked off Michigan before losing to Notre Dame and Marquette, Coleman scored 35 in a loss to Wichita State, where former LSU assistant Greg Heiar was formerly an assistant coach.
Bradley said Heiar called Coleman this week and told him he’d watched the entire Wichita game.
“(Coleman) told me today it was a real good conversation,” Bradley says. “He said, ‘Coach told me he watched the whole Wichita State game, pointed out things in that game that our coaches didn’t point out before.’ That detail shows they were really watching.”
Before playing two seasons at California, Coleman played a season at Lawson State Community College, where he averaged 19.9 points and 6.3 assists while shooting 47.7 percent from the field and 42.6 percent from 3. He’d originally committed to Florida Atlantic but opted for junior college, ironically, so as to not have to sit a year.
The situation at Cal, however, following the departure of Cuonzo Martin – who signed Coleman – to Missouri was enough to force Coleman to move.
“He chose to go to JUCO so he didn’t have to sit out a year,” Bradley says. “That goes to show he didn’t to be in a situation where, year round, it’s not positive energy. You don’t want to feel lonely if you’ve got a team around you and coaches around you.”
A native of Augusta, Ga., Coleman is also considering Georgia Tech, LSU, Georgia Southern, South Alabama, Nevada, and Missouri State. He’ll take his three official visits and hope to make a decision in the next “30 to 45 days,” Bradley said.
“We’re looking for a home outside a home,” Bradley says. “I want to be able to coach that coach is going to treat him right, let us know if there’s a problem, get to things ahead of time before they get out of hand.”
Development will also be key, but exposure will not. Coleman got plenty of that in the Pac-12, Bradley said.
“He wants to go somewhere obviously where there some exposure there, but that’s not his main focus at this point,” Bradley says. “He feels like he had that at Cal. He feels like his name is out there at this point. People know what he can do. Exposure is not that big of a deal right now.”
The biggest factor Coleman is looking for is fit – “to feel like he belongs.”
“A family vibe. He’s real family oriented,” Bradley says. “We are all close. Growth. Teaching moments. He wants communication. He doesn’t want to be in a position where nothing’s being said, then he’s expected to change something that he wasn’t told to change. Everyone wants to feel wanted, regardless of if you have a good game or you’re having a spectacular year, just the people around you want you to be around.”