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Nebraska gets its elite athlete in Coleman

November 20, 2011
By Steve Muntz of Marshalltown Community College

When it comes to performing two of the fundamental tasks of winning basketball, Keith Coleman may already be among the best.

It's why the University of Nebraska men's basketball team pursued the Marshalltown Community College freshman and inked him to a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday.

The Big Ten office officially cleared his signing late Thursday morning.

The 6-foot-9 Coleman has a rock-solid build and uses it to nab rebounds and play lock-down defense.

"I think the defensive end and the rebounding are his two strengths, but his athleticism is what allows him to do that," said Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler in a phone conversation Thursday with the Times-Republican.

"I think when you look at Keith, I think you've got to talk about that first and foremost. He's just an elite athlete."

"And again," he added, "that's what separates him from a lot of people."

What separated Nebraska from the rest of the programs pursuing Coleman was the relationship between Coleman and the Huskers' assistant and fellow Philadelphian, David Anwar, as well as Nebraska's brand-new state of the art practice facility.

The Hendricks Training Complex opened this year at the cost of $18.7 million.

"It's crazy," Coleman said of the facility. "It's amazing. I can't wait to go in there and put my jersey in the locker room.

"It's unbelievable."

For Sadler, the Hendricks Training Complex is a tangible measure of the priority Nebraska, a school known for its football program, puts on basketball.

"I think people are going to be able to see the commitment that's been made here," said Sadler. "We've always had a strong commitment, but kids like to see it with their own eyes.

"You can talk about commitment, but when they get a chance to come here for the first time and see what we actually do have and they understand what we've been telling them is true, that the commitment here is second-to-none in the country."

Coleman's Big Ten-ready body and athleticism allows him the chance to compete the minute he heads to Lincoln next summer.

"He's going to be able to impact their team in some ways next year," said MCC head coach Brynjar Brynjarsson. "Especially with his rebounding. In our conversations that Keith and I have had, if Keith wants to make some real money off the game (professionally), rebounding is his bread and butter."

Coleman had a double-double of 13 points and 13 boards in MCC's recent win over NIACC.

"He's going to have an opportunity to compete day-in and day-out, and I think that's what he'll want to do," said Sadler.

The Huskers will be competing in the Big Ten for the first time this season after coming over from the Big 12, where they finished seventh a year ago and had a 19-13 overall record.

Hopes are high in Lincoln as the Huskers make the transition with four starters from last year's team returning.

"They should be real good this year," said Coleman. "They said (during the recruitment) this year and next year they should be real good."

Sadler, now in his sixth year at the helm of Nebraska, has already made an impact on Coleman, who was recruited by the Huskers before he even played at Lee Academy in Maine a year ago.

"He's two things," said Coleman of Sadler. "He's hard, but he's a nice guy off the court.

"He's like a father figure to me."

Conversely, Sadler has been impressed with Coleman off the court.

"One of the things we're trying to do here is understand that character is huge," Sadler said. "And first and foremost I think that's what Keith's about.

"His character is really, really strong."

By TRAVIS HINES - T-R Sports Writer (thines@timesrepublican.comTimes-Republican

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