CALLAHAN, Fla. – Ever since he was tabbed as one of the best sophomores in the country by the recruiting services, Deebo Coleman has been in the high school basketball spotlight in Northeast Florida. The West Nassau guard is among the handful of players contending for player of the year honors in our area. He’s ranked as the No. 34 junior in the country and colleges have been after him for more than a year.
There is no doubt that his season has been more intense this year, both with the recruiters coming after him, and the pressure on his team.
This year, he has some help. Point guard Justin Hicks, for instance, who joined the team this season and has averaged over 14 points per game.
“He’s stepped up and taken the pressure off me,” Coleman said. “He’s stepped up big. My other teammates as well. Hit some big shots.”
We saw West Nassau make it to the championship game of the Fortegra 9:12 invitational earlier this season. And although the Warriors finished the regular season at 13-11, they have a chance to make a splash in the playoffs. West Nassau opened the district tournament Monday night with a 65-52 win over Yulee Monday night. Coleman led the Warriors with 26 points. They will face White at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
Nobody knows that better than West Nassau coach Ran Coleman, who just happens to be Deebo’s dad.
“Perseverance," Ran Coleman said. "Being able to go through some things, being resilient. We’re down to seven or eight guys right now. Most of those guys normally get some minutes. Being able to play back-to-back games, too, because that’s going to happen during tournament play.
When they are away from the basketball floor, father and son are still competitive at home, but the non-basketball conversations usually take place over the pool table.
"I’m the better pool player, but it’s been going back and forth lately, Deebo Coleman said, “The conversation gets pretty intense sometimes.”
Intense for Deebo, and meaningful for dad.
“I try to cherish all the moments that I can have with him now because I know he’ll be away,” Ran Coleman said. “He’s an older kid now, so he doesn’t like all the mushy and dad being up on him away from the basketball court. But we’re getting there.”
Coleman has been offered more than a dozen scholarships so far. Teams like Florida, Florida State, Georgetown, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Alabama, Clemson, Memphis, Wake Forest, St. Louis and UNF have all offered Deebo Coleman a scholarship. Remember, he’s still only a junior.
“A lot of teams that he’s probably dreamed about growing up wanting to play for this school or that school. Seeing them reach out to him is big for him,” Ran Coleman said. “But he understands right now, it’s not being a fan. Everything is business.”
Deebo Coleman has received plenty of advice from players and coaches who have been through the recruiting process and he has taken some of that advice to heart.
“Stay focused, finish your high school season,” Deebo Coleman said. “It’s going to be one of the biggest decisions you’ll make, so don’t take it for granted.”
Coleman says he wants to make his decision around the start of next season. It’s a decision that he’ll make with plenty of support at home.