Dajuan Coleman Pops For Syracuse
Tuesday was Dajuan Coleman’s day, and it was also a day for Syracuse fans to celebrate. Next August, the five-star big man from just down the street will make the quick jaunt to the SU campus to start what many are saying could be a brief college career. There was never much doubt in my mind that Coleman would pop for anywhere but Syracuse due to the school’s location and strong relationships he’s built with the coaching staff and players. While he visited Kentucky for Big Blue Madness, a report indicates that Coleman had his mind up two weeks before he even went down to Rupp Arena in Lexington. It’s also been made public that he grew homesick during summer ball trips and all the way up to his announcement, recruiting experts across the country stated in so few words that they would be surprised if he ended up anywhere but The Hill.
Coleman’s addition to the Orange gives Jim Boeheim a veritable embarrassment of riches across the back of the zone. When you think of this season’s Syracuse team, the first thing that comes to mind is the deep stable of guards. In 2012-13, the talk will likely be centered on, well, the centers. Or at least the frontcourt. Coleman, Fab Melo, Baye Keita and Rakeem Christmas? Plus C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant inheriting Kris Joseph’s playing time? The potential is off the charts.
Some fans may be apprehensive about getting worked up over such a highly-touted center after seeing Fab Melo flounder. While I respect those who don’t want to risk getting burned again, but it simply isn’t fair to compare the two solely based on Melo’s freshman struggles. Just as Rakeem Christmas and Fab Melo are different players, Melo and Coleman are very different. That viewpoint stems from the difference in the paths Melo and Coleman took to get where they are. Three years ago, Coleman had a firm spot on Syracuse’s radar as a ninth-grader at Jamesville-Dewitt High School, while Melo was just getting to know the game and had yet to play against legitimate competition. Coleman has had the local spotlight on him for awhile now and is used to the attention; Entering this season, Melo can improve just by taking the mental approach of blocking out the scrutiny that will follow him after a rough first year. Coleman thrives on physical play and can score with a variety of moves down low, while Melo struggled to control himself on the offensive end and tried to stretch defenses with jumpers and a face-up game.
That doesn’t mean they don’t have some similarities. Like Melo, Coleman can stand to improve his conditioning. As he enters his senior season, Coleman’s listed at a hefty 280 pounds. Theoretically, he could shed 30 pounds and still have plenty of weight to throw around when he looks to control the paint in the Big East. As a smaller detail, scouts have cited a need for Coleman to stay focused and play as if he can’t get by on his talent alone. Melo, as we all remember, looked completely lost on both ends of the floor, with the exception of his two promising performances at the end of the season. Still, the differences significantly outweigh the similarities.
In a way, having Coleman on board for the 2012-13 season is a luxury for the Orange. Syracuse could probably get by on its current personnel had Coleman decided to venture elsewhere, but the damage done to the program on the recruiting trail would be hard to shake. It wouldn’t be difficult to imagine living room pitches where rival coaches to talk up Jim Boeheim’s fading prowess and how he can’t rope in the studs even when they’re right in his backyard and his staff spends several years getting to know them. Fortunately, that won’t be the case here. Coleman’s commitment on Tuesday sends the message that Syracuse is on its biggest extended recruiting roll in many years, as Boeheim and Company have reeled in three of the top big men in recent years in Melo, Christmas and now the local Coleman.
The short-term future is bright, but the long-term future is shaping up to be brilliant.