Friday, July 3, 2009

DU-JUAN To Others: Syracuse-Area Big Fella Heating Up

Delving into DaJuan Coleman’s rapid ascension to the upper echelon of nation's big men, Syracuse Select Coach Shawn Pudney cuts himself off in mid-sentence.

“Did you see him two years ago?” Asks Pudney, stabbing me with a look as serious as Coleman’s overall recruiting package.

“He was terrible.”

A severe lack of grit and a polar opposite of aesthetically-pleasing game plagued Coleman.

For those of you longtime hoop gurus, picture Stanley “Big Garbage” Roberts in his early days.

There was a search warrant out for the behemoth kid's passion.

“If you can believe this, he was actually a very passive kid. He was a kid who was almost embarassed about his size. He posted up with his hands in his pockets.”

Fast forward two years.

Coleman has gone from terrible tower to titanic talent, tantalizing teams to the tune of workaday double-doubles.

At just 15, Coleman has garnered significant national visibility.

ESPN.com currently ranks Coleman no.1 in the class of 2012.

At the Big Apple Classic in New York this winter, Coleman’s Jamesville-Dewitt HS stamped a stunning 75-63 win over the Lincoln Railsplitters.

On paper, the key to Jamesville-Dewitt’s signature victory was the clamp down operation successfully executed on Cincinnatti-bound Lance Stephenson, Lincoln’s vaunted senior guard.

But it was Coleman’s quiet domination and crucial buckets down the stretch that provided breathing room in the congested, jam-packed gym at Baruch College.

Coleman scored 12 points and tore down 10 boards, outclassing Lincoln senior and Maryland-bound forward James Padgett.

The 6-foot-8, 250-pound brute has picked up where he left off on this spring’s grassroots circuit.
He’s been scoring at will and beasting underneath the basket.

Immense, immeasurable intangibles have supplemented Coleman’s superior rebounding and growing arsenal of post moves.

Not only does Coleman manipulate, influence, and alter the trajectory of shots in the key, his immense presence keeps players out of the driving lanes.

There’s no longer a search warrant out for his will to win.

None whatsoever. Just a mammoth manhunt for the monster.

Syracuse, Connecticut, Kentucky, Ohio State, and a slew of other top-flight programs are scouring the land for the neophyte.

Syracuse seems like a very promising potential suitor for the big fella.

Coleman works out religiously with Corey Parker, the former strength and conditioning coach at SU.

Jamesville-DeWitt has become a Syracuse pipeline.

Cuse guard Andy Rautins, a three-point marksman and redshirt senior, helped lead J-D to a 2004 state championship.

J-D's Brandon Triche, a chiseled 6-foot-4 guard, is the gem of Jim Boeheim's 2009 recruiting class.

An unmatched work ethic has spurred Coleman’s leaps-and-bounds progression.

“We work out every morning Monday, Wednesday, Friday, from 6-8 in the morning. He starts at 5. I think that shows what type of kid he is,” said Pudney.

Coleman’s also been holding his own in pickup games with older players and college players from Central New York’s traditional basketball breeding grounds.

“They’ve pushed his development big time,” said Pudney of the area’s elderstatesmen.

“There’s definitely peer pressure from the older guys for him to get better. If he doesn’t work hard, he knows he’s going to hear about it.”

True indeed.

And if Coleman’s torrid pace continues, we know we’re going to hear about it.