Chin Coleman’s success continues to grow

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The Daily Illini File Photo

Ron “Chin” Coleman gives directions from the sideline during the game against Rutgers at State Farm Center on Feb. 9, 2019. Coleman and Orlando A

By Alec Busse, Assistant Video Editor

Ron “Chin” Coleman’s path to becoming an assistant college basketball coach wasn’t easy. He wasn’t planning on being a college coach and took an “a-typical” route to get there.

Coleman grew up in ‘Mall Town’ on Chicago’s southeast side, far from the luxurious well-lit side of the city and even farther from the wealthy suburbs. But, ‘Mall Town’ made Coleman into who he is today. Well, ‘Mall Town’ and his mother.

Coleman became familiar with gangs, drugs and violence at a young age, growing up on the city’s South Side, where he learned what he calls “survival skills.” His mother and older brother’s strict rules kept Coleman away from the gangs and drugs.

Basketball became Coleman’s ticket out of his tough neighborhood, but it was more than just basketball. A childhood with fewer freedoms and a more significant focus on education also was important in Coleman getting his ticket out.

Coleman went to South Shore High School and was able to accelerate his learning opportunities by being involved with an honors program South Shore offered to their best students. Coleman took pride in his education because of the importance his mother put on doing well in the classroom.

Outside of the classroom, Coleman wasn’t able to stay out on the streets late at night, like many of his friends were. Coleman credits his mother for keeping him on the right path, which led to Coleman graduating from South Shore and qualifying for college.

Coleman began his college basketball career at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. After his freshman season at Weber State, Coleman decided he needed a change of scenery and transferred to Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. In three seasons at Lamar, Coleman averaged over 16 points per game on his way to earning his degree in 1997.

Traveling to the western United States exposed Coleman to different cultures, but his roots remained in Chicago because of his mother.

Coleman says his mother is “the core of I am today, that’s a fact.”

After college, Coleman began his coaching career with middle school and small-fry basketball teams in Chicago before climbing the ranks to the AAU and high school levels. Coleman believes his coaching foundations come from his time in the lower levels.

Coleman’s name began to get recognized during his time with the Mac-Irvin Fire AAU organization and Whitney Young High School in Chicago.

The connections Coleman had to the Irvin family allowed him to get involved with the Fire as his coaching career started to catch wind. Coleman grew up playing basketball with Mike Irvin and was a locker partner with him at South Shore. The relationship Coleman has with the Irvin family gave him an opportunity to coach Chicago’s best high school talents.

During his time with the Fire, Coleman says his mission was to “give back and help more inner-city kids and to give our knowledge to them and get them prepared to play high-level basketball.”

After time at the grassroots levels, Coleman’s first college job was as an assistant for Tim Miles at Colorado State. Coleman says he was lucky his first college job came in the Mountain West with the Rams.

Most college coaches start at a junior college or Division II school and work their way up to Division I basketball. Coleman was different, but when hasn’t he been different?

In 2012, Coleman packed his bags with Miles and moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where Miles had accepted a head coaching opportunity. After a short stint on the Nebraska staff, the state of Illinois began calling his name to come home.

Coleman took a higher-ranking position at Bradley University before being named assistant head coach in 2014-2015 under head coach Geno Ford. Then Chicago called. Coleman couldn’t say no to his home, so he accepted a position at UIC before moving downstate to Champaign to join head coach Brad Underwood’s staff.

At Illinois, Coleman has been able to return to his mission of helping inner-city kids find ways to play high-level college basketball — most notably Illini sophomore guard Ayo Dosunmu.

Coleman has known Quam Dosunmu, Ayo Dosunmu’s father, since they were kids playing basketball at a Chicago YMCA, and the relationship Coleman developed with Quam Dosunmu never faded.

He was introduced to a then young, skinny Ayo Dosunmu when Ayo was in the fifth grade by a friend that knew Ayo was “the next one.”

Coleman never anticipated he would have the ability to coach Ayo but says, “Once God created that opportunity for him, he became the player that has his fingerprints all over the turnaround, bring back and recharging of Illinois basketball.”

Coleman is happy in Champaign, but he isn’t done. He hasn’t reached his ultimate goal in the coaching world.

“My ultimate goal is to one day be a head coach and run my program,” Coleman said. “I am working hard to that goal. I am going to reach that goal. One day I will be a head coach and I will be running my program and we will be successful. And I am going to win.”

@Alec_busse

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