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Q&A about new Arizona commit Justin Coleman

Let’s get some background info on the newest Wildcat

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

The Arizona Wildcats landed Samford graduate transfer point guard Justin Coleman on Friday (our commitment story can be found here).

Eligible to play immediately, the 5-foot-10 point guard averaged 13.5 points and 6.6 assists with the Bulldogs this season, shooting 44 percent from the field, 37 percent from 3, and 81 percent from the free-throw line.

The Birmingham, Alabama native adds much-needed talent to the point guard position. Arizona’s only returner at that spot is rising sophomore Alex Barcello, who hardly played in 2017-18.

Coleman, a former Top-100 recruit, actually spent the first two years of his collegiate career with the Alabama Crimson Tide before transferring to Samford. As a sophomore in Tuscaloosa, Coleman averaged 7.8 points and 3.3 assists per game with a rough shooting line of .300/.272/.890.

We wanted to know more about Coleman, and finding someone who’s knowledgeable about Samford basketball was difficult, so we asked our friends at Bama Roundball for some background info on the former Alabama point guard.

Here’s our Q&A.

What were Coleman’s strengths and weaknesses at Alabama?

Strengths: Quickness, passing ability, free throw shooting

Weaknesses: Shooting/scoring consistency, finishing around the rim

Why did he transfer from Alabama?

I can’t speak for him, but the short answer is that it was potentially due to uncertainty surrounding his future playing time.

The context is that Coleman was an Anthony Grant recruit and played one season under Grant, starting off and on. Avery Johnson arrived and true freshman Dazon Ingram was named the starter at point guard. Ingram has size and length, which Johnson tends to favor.

A few games into the season, Ingram suffered a season-ending injury, and Coleman returned to the starting lineup for a few games, but the team performed better with Retin Obasohan playing on the ball and Coleman came off the bench (though he still played good minutes).

If Coleman had returned to Bama the following season, he would’ve likely played behind Ingram while also competing with Avery Johnson Jr. for minutes.

Coleman is obviously short, but what type of athlete is he?

Quick. Adept at beating defenders off the dribble.

Coleman averaged 13.5 points and 6.6 assists at Samford, and shot a high percentage from 3 and the free-throw line. Do those numbers surprise you given that he struggled at Alabama?

He’s been pretty consistent with his free throw shooting at Alabama. Watching him in high school and AAU, it was surprising to see him struggle shooting the ball from the outside while at Alabama.

He had a few games where he would get into a rhythm, but overall he struggled to maintain consistency from the outside. I wouldn’t hold his assist numbers at Alabama against him, as he wasn’t surrounded with a lot of offensive firepower and those teams ranked toward the bottom end in tempo.

Arizona plays at Alabama on Dec. 9. How do you feel about having to face Coleman?

Indifferent. Overall I’m hoping he will have a successful season at Arizona. You tend to pull for the Alabama high school kids regardless of where they end up playing. But it would not hurt my feelings if he had an off night against Alabama.

Since we’re here, what type of team is Alabama supposed to have next season?

Tough to predict. Defensively, there shouldn’t be a dropoff, as Alabama’s length will likely still give a lot of teams problems. The expectation is that Tevin Mack will be able to come in and offset some of the scoring void left by Collin Sexton’s departure.

I think Ingram will begin next season back on the ball. Where it goes from there will depend on if the younger guys continue to develop and expand their roles.