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Samford grad transfer Justin Coleman commits to Arizona

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The Wildcats get a much-needed point guard

Alabama v Kentucky

The Arizona Wildcats needed a point guard, and they got one Friday.

Samford graduate transfer Justin Coleman has committed to the UA. He has one year of eligibility left and can play immediately.

The 5-foot-10 point guard, who visited Arizona this week, 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 will compete with seldomly-used freshman Alex Barcello for the starting point guard job at Arizona. That race may get even more competitive if the Wildcats land five-star point guard Brandon Williams, who is expected to choose between Arizona, Oregon, and Gonzaga fairly soon.

Coleman posted 2.4 assists for every turnover this season, and was 12th in the country in assist percentage.

“I’m known for my facilitating,” Coleman told azcentral. “I can score when I need to score, but I’m very good at running my team and getting guys shots.”

He was a top-100 recruit out of high school and signed with Alabama where he spent two seasons before transferring to Samford. Arizona plays at Alabama on Dec. 9, which should be interesting.

Arizona guard Dylan Smith is from Alabama, too.

“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 of Coleman. “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 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.

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

So Coleman does have his limitations, but Arizona needed to add a proven, experienced point guard and he brings that to the table.

Coleman joins a class of newcomers that includes Pitt graduate transfer Ryan Luther and 2018 recruits Devonaire Doutrive and Omar Thielemans.

The Wildcats still have three scholarships left to offer this offseason. We listed all their known targets here.


Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire