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Justin Coleman dedicates 1,000-point milestone to late aunt

justin-coleman-arizona-wildcats-sean-miller-graduate-assistant-college-basketball-2020 Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arizona Wildcats point guard Justin Coleman scored 14 points in Saturday’s win over the Oregon State Beavers, eclipsing the 1,000 mark for his career.

The timing was just right.

“Today was kind of a bit emotional for me as a person because in November my aunt passed and today was her birthday,” the fifth-year senior explained. “So I had a little bit more to play for today. I didn’t tell (my teammates) because I want to play for them as well, but today was pretty special to me.”

Coleman has only scored 174 of his 1,012 career points with the Wildcats, spending the first two years of his career at Alabama and his junior season at Samford, transferring there to be closer to home after his younger brother was diagnosed with cancer.

“He took a hard path to get there, but I know it means a lot to him,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said of Coleman’s milestone. “He had the ball in his hands at the end of the game. ... I’m sure he dreamed of doing that as a little guy in Alabama, worked his whole life to be a college player and he doesn’t do it because of his great athleticism or his great size. More than any guy on our team he loves the game. He really does. He works at the game, he’s always in the gym.

“I think a big reason that he wanted to finish his career here is he wanted to play on that big stage again and see what he can do and as you know he’s very, very important to our team, not only on the court but his leadership and who he is as a person. Our guys really feed off him.”

Saturday’s game was a bounce-back performance for Coleman, who was held to three points in Thursday’s loss to Oregon. In addition to his 14 points, Coleman had five assists, four rebounds and five steals, helping the Wildcats survive on a night they were without star center Chase Jeter for most of the game.

“I made a lot of mistakes in the Oregon game, so I watched the film three or four times and I just learned from my mistakes,” Coleman said. “I had four turnovers and I shouldn’t turn the ball over that much as a point guard.”

Coleman, who, along with Jeter, was voted a captain by his teammates, needed two points Saturday to reach the 1,000-point mark, and surpassed it early in the second half by draining a 3.

Fellow grad transfer Ryan Luther made sure Coleman was recognized for it, mentioning the milestone in his postgame interview.

“Everyone on our team knows what type of guy he is and what type of person he is and all that he’s been through,” Luther said, unprompted. “He’s really deserving.”