Coleman's unique moniker helps with connections

Coleman's unique moniker helps with connections

CHAMPAIGN — Ron Coleman tried to be just that. Ron. Or Ronald. Maybe even Ronnie.

Moving from associate head coach at Whitney Young and coach of the Mac Irvin Fire to the Division I ranks as an assistant at Colorado State under Tim Miles, Coleman said he thought he should be more professional. He thought he’d stick with Ron instead of his childhood nickname.

“We tried it for like a hot week,” Coleman said. “Literally 72 hours. We tried Ron. We tried Ronald.

“Then Coach Miles brought me in his office and was like, ‘Chin,’ and I’m like, ‘Come on Coach — Ron, Ronald or Ronnie.’ He was like, ‘I don’t think we can do it. If we change your name, then you don’t have any more street credibility.’ We couldn’t shake it. I tried to shake it.”

So “Chin” it is.

Coleman was the final assistant added to new Illinois coach Brad Underwood’s coaching staff last month after Jamall Walker and Orlando Antigua. The first item Underwood mentioned — after saying Ron Coleman was better known as “Chin,” of course — was Coleman’s ties to the city of Chicago.

They’re vast.

Coleman played in the Chicago Public League at South Shore. Then coached in it at Young while also coaching the Mac Irvin Fire. Working as an assistant at Illinois-Chicago for Steve McClain the past two seasons brought him back to the city.

“He’s going to get the label as a ‘Chicago guy,’ and he’s not,” Underwood said. “He’s a guy that, nationally, has tremendous connections. A guy that I admire how he’s grown up through the business, working his way up through the AAU ranks, going to Colorado State, being in an administrative role (at Nebraska) and then earning his stripes on the road (at Bradley and UIC).”

Coleman is proud of his Chicago roots. He said growing up there was a part of making him who he is today. But he’s not ready to be hit with the “just a Chicago guy” label.

“To put me in a box and say I’m just a Chicago guy is a little unfair,” Coleman said. “I just happen to be from Chicago. I know everybody from Chicago. That is my wheelhouse and where I’m from. I’m a little bit elastic. I can stretch a little bit further than Chicago.”

Coleman’s national ties come from his time coaching for Mac Irvin, getting to know high school and AAU coaches throughout the country. His seasons at Colorado State and Nebraska add to them. But they can’t trump his ties to Illinois. It’s why he wanted this job.

“As a kid, I remember watching the (Illinois) games that came on Saturday,” Coleman said. “I’m very knowledgeable of the history and the players. I know a bunch of the old, ex-players. I had breakfast with Deon Thomas (a former colleague at UIC) the other day.

“Since I started coaching, this has always been a dream of mine, to coach at the University of Illinois. I’m truly living the dream. Some people use that cliché loosely. I’m really, really, really living the dream.”

Working with Underwood is part of that dream. Coleman said Underwood caught his eye when the latter was at Stephen F. Austin running roughshod over the Southland Conference.

“How is this guy doing this? How is he winning all these games? How is he dominating a league?” Coleman said. “Then when he gets to the tournament, he beats some of the big schools. That piqued my interest.”

Coleman said UIC used Underwood’s defense during the 2016-17 season. The Flames’ 17-19 record was a 12-win improvement, and they reached the semifinals of the CBI in their first postseason basketball since the 2012-13 season.

“It helped us triple our wins from Year 1 to Year 2,” Coleman said of using Underwood’s defensive principles. “I was a fan first. Now to be a comrade and be working for him, I guess you could say is my second dream. It’s a win-win. I’m in a good space right now."


Winds of change?
Chin Coleman flashed some national recruiting prowess at Illinois-Chicago, helping land Dikembe Dixson out of West Virginia and Canadian point guard Marcus Ottey. Coleman’s Chicago ties, though, will be put to good use at Illinois. These are players with Chicago ties whom the Illini are recruiting:

Ayo Dosunmu, 6-foot-5, 177 pounds
Morgan Park point guard is a top-25 prospect in 2018 class.

Talen Horton-Tucker, 6-5, 205
Simeon wing is seeing profile rise this spring.

Kahlil Whitney, 6-5, 170
Class of 2019 guard transferred to New Jersey power Roselle Catholic.

Nimari Burnett, 6-2, 160
Class of 2020 prospect is heir apparent to point guard reins at Morgan Park.

Adam Miller, 6-3, 170
Like 2017 signee Da’Monte Williams, 2020 Peoria Manual guard plays for Mac Irvin Fire.

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Moonpie wrote on May 13, 2017 at 8:05 am

More of the same dished out from the Lazy Gazoo cheerleading professionals. Everything is swell and wondefrul and groovy. Illinois is a reliable program--it can be relied on to miss the Big Dance and pooch it in the NIT.

Col. Jessup wrote on May 13, 2017 at 2:05 pm

Moonpie- You forgot to bash Trump and Tate.  You are losing it, my old friend.

jjohnson wrote on May 13, 2017 at 10:05 am

Moonpie rushes in where angels fear to tread. His inanity cannot withstand silence. Moonpie, you sometimes make very good comments, but your sophomoric hatred of the N-G drowns out anyone's giving your serious comments any attention. Is that what you want?