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Arizona a finalist for Samford grad transfer Justin Coleman

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The 5-foot-10 point guard averaged 13.5 points and 6.6 assists this season

SEC Basketball Tournament - Second Round Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats are one of several finalists for Samford graduate transfer Justin Coleman, according to Corey Evans of Rivals.com.

Coleman is also considering Texas Southern, UAB, St. Louis, SMU, Auburn, Marquette, Ohio State, and Northern Kentucky, per Evans. He has one year of eligibility left and can play immediately.

The 5-foot-10 point guard averaged 13.5 points and 6.6 assists this season with the Bulldogs. The Birmingham, Alabama native shot 44 percent from the field, 37 percent from 3, and 81 percent from the free-throw line.

Coleman posted 2.4 assists for every turnover. He was a top-100 recruit out of high school and signed with Alabama where he spent two seasons before transferring to Samford.

“Even going back to his time in high school, you could definitely see that he’s an explosive playmaker and that he can get downhill, get in the paint and either create for himself, or set up an easy basket for others,” Samford coach Scott Padgett said. “He has a great work-ethic and love for the game. He also competes on every play and wants to win. Those are the things that definitely draw your attention as a coach.”

Samford ranked 346th (of 351) in defensive rating this past season, and Coleman had a defensive box plus/minus of -5.0, which was the second-worst among Bulldog rotation players.

The redshirt junior swiped 1.2 steals per game.

“Since he’s been on campus, I think he’s kind of validated the direction that we were heading. Last year, we had a group of four or five guys that would get in the gym and do a little bit extra, but Justin, the first day he could be on campus, we had workouts in the afternoon at 2 p.m., and he was in the gym at 6 a.m., getting extra shots up,” Padgett said.

“Then, the second day he was on campus, he was in the gym at 6 a.m., getting shots up. So, before you know it, other guys are getting up early and shooting in the gym, and I think that’s just part of the way that he’s already helping to make our team better.”

Like most diminutive point guards, Coleman does not shoot a high percentage at the rim. He converted just 53 percent of his attempts from that range this past season. For reference, Parker Jackson-Cartwright converted 48 percent.

But Arizona, which still has six open scholarship spots, desperately needs someone who can create shots, and Coleman’s point and assist totals indicate he can.

He was 11th in the entire country in assist rate.


Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire