When I first heard the name “Chin” Coleman, I thought he was Chinese. It turns out the name “Chin” was more a description of his facial anatomy than his cultural heritage. Regardless of origin, the newest addition to UK’s brain trust has proven to be a breath of fresh air—a pleasant infusion of encouragement and inspiration from the customary staid and stodgy platitudes of his predecessors.
But after the 9 – 16 debacle of last season, BBN needs more than just a cheerleader on the sidelines, a Calipari “yes” man, or a quirky sound bite source for mid-week pressers. What can the Chicago native and Lamar graduate really add to the program with the greatest tradition in the history of college basketball?
Two things stand out to me.
First of all, Coleman has been proven to be a master recruiter. With his Chicago ties, Kentucky hopes to be in the running for some of the top talent in that hoops hotbed for years to come. He’s one who has identified early on exactly the right buttons to push on the recruiting trail.
“It’s our job as assistant coaches and recruiters to find out—what I like to call—who the champion is,” Coleman said on the show this morning. “Sometimes the champion is the mom and dad. Sometimes the champion is an uncle. Sometimes the champion is their high school coach. Sometime the champion is an AAU coach. Sometimes it’s a combination. It’s our job to navigate that situation and find out who that is.”
Second, once the recruits are on campus, Coleman will work tirelessly to squeeze blood out of turnips. The guy appears to be a grinder. He’s the assistant coach version of the proverbial gym rat. He’ll make sure the players are just as committed to improvement as he is. If you don’t do the time, you’re going to ride the pine. We asked Coleman directly what he could have done to get more out of the players who struggled last year.
“Spending time and building good habits,” he answered. “Keeping them to their strengths but also getting them better. I think Coach Orlando [Antigua] and myself and all the coaches do a good job of professional skill development and individual instruction teaching. We’ll spend tons of hours in the gym with these guys in helping them get confidence from the work. Once you get confidence from the work, the game’s just a by product of all the work you put in. But you have to put in the time. We’re going to do a big-time job in spending time with them.”
Big-time job? In other words, he’ll huff and he’ll puff until he blows your house down…or until Kentucky wins many, many, many, many, many more championships.
“Kentucky is a blue-chip brand,” Chin emphasized. “I think I just echo what has been done for a long, long, long, long, long, long, long time. All I did was echo the expectations and what is respected at the University of Kentucky and what Coach Calipari has done.”
Check out the entire interview right here.