Monday, April 20, 2009
Dan Wolken - Miami Dade big man keeps commitment to Memphis Tigers; Evans enters draft
Miami Dade big man keeps commitment to Memphis Tigers; Evans enters draft
By Dan Wolken, Memphis Commercial Appeal
08:32 p.m., April 20, 2009
Will Coleman, the 6-9 big man from Miami Dade Junior College, said tonight he will play at the University of Memphis next season and honor the letter-of-intent he signed last fall.
Coleman said he made the decision after meeting with new coach Josh Pastner on Monday in Miami.
“I’m sticking with my commitment,” Coleman said. “(Pastner) just told me about the style of play and his morals and standards and beliefs and stuff like that. I like him. I think he’s a real good guy. I can’t wait to get up there.”
Securing Coleman is a major victory for Pastner early in his tenure, since it assures at least one key member of the recruiting class that John Calipari built last fall. Coleman’s game is reminiscent of former Memphis forward Joey Dorsey, with almost unparalleled speed and leaping ability for a player of his size.
JucoJunction, a Web site affiliated with Rivals.com, ranks Coleman as the No. 2 player in the country at the junior college level.
“We’re really excited about Will remaining with the program,” Pastner said. “He’s the type of kid the city will embrace. Not only is he a really good student-athlete, but he’s an even better human being.”
Coleman, who only began playing basketball as a high school junior, signed initially with Arkansas-Little Rock but didn’t qualify. He headed instead to Miami-Dade, where he grew into a 260-pound physical specimen and began putting up double-doubles with regularity.
Former Memphis assistant Orlando Antigua, who followed Calipari to Kentucky, initially began recruiting Coleman to Pittsburgh when he coached there last spring. After Antigua joined Memphis’ staff, Coleman participated in Calipari’s elite camp last summer and committed shortly thereafter. Coleman will have two years of eligibility remaining.
After learning about Calipari’s departure, Coleman said he thought about looking at other schools but decided to "shut it down" on Monday after talking with his parents.
"Honestly, I was astounded about Calipari leaving, but I guess it’s all business," Coleman said. "Personally, that’s what I think this is. College basketball is just a big business and Calipari got a better offer, or maybe it was just a coach wanting to coach at Kentucky.
"I was astounded because I was like, 'How could you put together such an amazing recruiting class and it’s just gone.' I didn’t see anyone beating us next year, but hey, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do."
Coleman may ultimately be the only member of the original recruiting class who plays at Memphis, though Pastner is still recruiting shooting guard Xavier Henry and Miami-Dade forward Darnell Dodson. Pastner is also recruiting other players both in high school and the junior college ranks to fill out the roster.
EVANS ENTERS DRAFT
Freshman guard Tyreke Evans officially sent in his paperwork for the NBA Draft on Monday, though he had stated his intention to enter the draft weeks ago. Evans will not hire an agent, leaving open the remote possibility he could return as a sophomore. Evans is expected to remain in the draft if he projects to go in the lottery.
“I am putting my name in the draft and see what happens,” Evans said in a statement released by the U of M. “I will attend some workouts and see what feedback I receive. Once I have all the information available to me, I will sit down with my family and talk about what’s the next step to take – either to remain in the NBA Draft or return for another season of college basketball here at Memphis.”
Evans had a sensational season, scoring a team-high 17.1 points per game. Memphis had a 27-1 record after Evans moved to point guard, with the only loss coming against Missouri in the Sweet 16 – a game in which Evans scored 33 points on 12-of-25 field goals.
“We want him to have as much success as possible, and we hope he can get a chance to go as high in the draft as possible,” Pastner said. “He’s not signing with an agent. He’s keeping his options open, but the type of year he had, he’s earned the right to test the waters and see where his stock is. I’d be surprised if he didn’t end up being a lottery pick.”