Syracuse is counting on former McDonald’s All-American Dajuan Coleman to be healthy this season after missing most of the last two seasons to injury. We’ve heard from head coach Jim Boeheim this fall that Coleman is healthy and has been playing for the last month, but now we have eyes outside the Syracuse program who can verify that Coleman looks good.
According to a report from Donna Ditota of Syracuse.com, Coleman doesn’t seem to have any issues stemming from the knee problems.
“Dajuan Coleman looks as physically fit as I’ve ever seen him,” Ditota wrote. “His body looks lean and powerful; he seems to be moving without evidence of the knee trouble that has plagued his college career. But he is still working through rust issues from those two years of basketball inactivity. He needs more scrimmaging, more game experience to perfect his timing.”
While it remains to be seen if Coleman can stay on the floor as a healthy and productive player this season, it’s certainly a positive sign that Coleman appears to be a good shape. If the Orange have Coleman at their disposal, it answers a lot of questions about their interior play this season.
Center DaJuan Coleman arrived on the Syracuse campus amidst much fanfare in 2012, as he was the local phenom who decided to suit up for Jim Boeheim despite being pursued by many other elite programs. A McDonald’s All-American in 2012, Coleman was seen as an elite big man whose stay in college had the potential to be a short one.
However that hasn’t been the case, with injuries limiting Coleman for most of his time at Syracuse. Yet there seems to be some optimism, albeit guarded, regarding his status for the 2015-16 campaign after redshirting last season. With practice set to begin next week Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim spoke positively of Coleman’s progress to the Syracuse Post-Standard, noting that his 6-foot-9 center is actually getting to play basketball.
That’s an important development for Coleman, as in the past he’s generally had to focus on rehabbing his knee and non-contact drills.
“He’s actually playing. He’s been playing more the last month,” Boeheim said. “This summer, he wasn’t playing that much. I’m updating you on what he’s done in the last month and that’s been an improvement over what he’s done prior to this. I think there’s every reason to be optimistic at this point in time. “
Coleman’s status is important for the Orange given the available options in the post. Freshman Moustapha Diagne, who was expected to be an immediate contributor, wasn’t cleared academically and is now attending Northwest Florida State College. And with Rakeem Christmas and Chris McCullough both in the NBA, losing Diagne was a tough personnel hit for a team that isn’t all that deep in the post.
In addition to Coleman the Orange return juniors Tyler Roberson and Chinoso Okoboh, and freshman Tyler Lydon joins the ranks with Providence transfer Paschal Chukwu sitting out the 2015-16 season. While it wouldn’t be fair to expect major minutes from Coleman given his career to this point, Syracuse’s numbers in the post mean that they’ll need to get something of consequence from him if they’re to be a contender in the ACC.
Dajuan Coleman hasn’t played a college game since Jan. 7, 2014, suffering a season-ending knee injury against Virginia Tech. Over a year later, Jim Boeheim announced that Coleman would redshirt the 2014-15 season, as he continued to rehab.
Entering this season, one of the main storylines for the Orange will be the status of the 6-foot-9 big man, especially with Rakeem Christmas and Chris McCullough in the NBA. Donna Ditota of the Post-Standard caught up with the rising junior center earlier this week, to update his recovery.
DC: 100 percent, yeah. Ready to go. I’m basing that on what I feel now.
DD: And what do you think you can contribute this season?
DC: Being one of the older guys — I’ll be a senior in the classroom, but a junior on the court — I’m going to be a leader. And definitely just being a low-post presence, rebounding and just being a hard worker.
Coleman’s health might not be the only key for the Orange next season. Syracuse will also need stable point guard play, which could result in senior Michael Gbinije sliding into the starting roleplaying alongside fellow fifth-year senior Trevor Cooney.
Through 37 games in his college career, Coleman is averaging 4.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.