Photo courtesy of Texas athletics
Coming into his senior season, Texas guard Matt Coleman III has been durable and valuable. Now, he wants to add Big 12 champion to his list of accolades and adjectives.
Hailing from Norfolk, Virginia, by way of the prestigious Oak Hill Academy, Coleman III was ranked as the third-best player in the state, and 11th best point guard in his class by the 247Sports Composite. Coleman was a four-star prospect with a composite score of .9805. He chose to attend Texas over schools like Duke and Kansas.
Reliability and Performance
In his three years at Texas, Coleman has proven to be a mainstay in the lineup. He’s missed only one career game.
“I think it’s the recovery that I’ve done since I started in high school (Oak Hill),” Coleman said of why he has been so reliable. “Also, eating right, conditioning and just taking every advantage I can of the staff at school, at Texas, and trying to work it in my favor so I can perform to the best of my ability.”
With a career stat line of 33 minutes per game, 10.8 points per game, 2.6 rebounds per game, and 3.8 assists per game, Coleman was named an All-Big 12 honorable mention as both a freshman and sophomore. As a junior, he earned a spot on the conference’s third team.
“It feels good, the recognition, but I’m far from satisfied,” Coleman said after a five-on-five game at a high school camp in Virginia. “There is a lot of work to do. Senior year, I just want to win a conference championship. All the individual accolades will come. But as a team, I want to win a Big 12 championship, make it to the Sweet 16 and just have a winning experience at Texas.”
NBA Draft Prospects and COVID
Coleman had begun to wonder about the now-delayed NBA Draft. Ultimately, he chose to come back to Austin for his final season, due in part to the shutdown of college sports.
“Before COVID(-19) happened, I wanted to test the waters, but I’m in no rush,” Coleman explained. “I’m going to go back for my senior year, just try to win at a high level and put myself in the best position for next year.”
Coleman III and his brother, Virginia’s Chase Coleman, have been getting to work together during the quarantine. The brothers have also had a chance to bond — something that was harder in high school. While Matt was at Oak Hill for his final two seasons, Chase, who is two years younger, was staring at Norfolk’s Maury High School after Matt’s departure to Oak Hill.
“It’s been fun, friendly, brotherly competition,” Coleman III said. “It’s fun. I’m enjoying it while it’s here, having this time at home. It’s been very cherishing, being able to spend these moments with him, being able to get to know him even more, and make up time that we’ve lost in the past from me being away. It’s fun and I love every day of it.
“Right now, whatever opportunities that are available, I’m trying to take advantage of with quarantine and COVID,” Coleman added. “I heard a gym was open. So, if a gym is open, I want to be there and just get any type of work I can, try to get back in shape, and keep my body tight.”
Shaka Smart and… Mo Bamba
The relationship between Coleman III and his coach Shaka Smart is one rooted in trust. It was one built over Coleman’s high school and now college career.
“Coach Smart is a very genuine coach” Coleman said. “He is a player’s coach; he is honest and at the same time, he lets you be you. I’ve known him since the eighth grade. His message has not changed and he is always going to have my back, as well as I, have his.”
One of Coleman’s more noteworthy teammates from his time at Texas is Mo Bamba. Most know him for the 2017 song and for his performance that led to Bamba being the sixth overall pick of the Orlando Magic in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Coleman and Bamba met while playing for their future college coach, Smart, in the 2016 U18 FIBA Americas tournament, a tournament the team ultimately won. Coleman and Bamba later made their official visits to Texas together.
“Mo, that’s like my best friend. We still talk to this day,” Coleman remarked. “I visit him. (Bamba) comes to visit me sometimes and we spend a lot of time together. He is a great guy, a lot of character, but he was just a freak of nature. He could touch the top of the backboard, he was a competitor — just a great guy to play with. We were always going to the gym together and pushing each other the best we could.”
Being recognized by the Big 12 three times already, look out for Coleman as a senior. If Coleman is lucky, a possible reunion with Bamba in the NBA could be in the works.