By MATT VINES, Journal Sports
NATCHITOCHES – Call him Mr. Double Double.
Northwestern State center Kendal Coleman has seven double doubles in his last eight games and eight overall this season to highlight an impressive second freshman campaign.
Coleman logged a season-high 14 rebounds to go with 12 points in an agonizing 79-74 loss by the Demons (4-14, 0-1 Southland Conference) at Southeastern on Saturday to open SLC play. It was his third double double against a league opponent this season.
With 13 conference games remaining, there appears no reason why the Captain Shreve High product can’t string together an impressive collection. He already ranks him 13th nationally with eight double doubles.
“Kendal has shown a great deal of interest in getting where he needs to be to succeed,” said NSU coach Mike McConathy. “The work ethic he developed over the summer is special, and he’s on a mission to be the best player he can be.
“He’s starting to scratch that surface because he’s matured a lot, and he’s starting to understand the perspective it takes to play at a higher level.”
Coleman will test the league waters again this week Thursday at preseason favorite Nicholls (10-8, 0-1 SLC) and Saturday at UNO (8-8, 1-0 SLC), a team in which Coleman has already posted 20 points and 12 rebounds earlier this month in a non-league meeting.
Already an accomplished jump shooter, Coleman developed around the basket as he’s improved his paint scoring and rebounding.
The 6-foot-8 center looks like he’s been chiseled from the side of a mountain and leads the SLC in rebounding (9.1 rebounds per game) and is fourth in scoring (15.2 points per game).
“I would attribute that to the work I did in the offseason,” said Coleman, who flashed potential in his first freshman season with seven points and rebounds per game before COVID-19 gave him a second freshman season. “All the things I learned from the NSU coaches plus guys back home like Derrick Parker and Carl Harris that I’ve worked out with from a young age – I’ve come a long way.”
An overseas trip this summer also proved formative to Coleman’s development.
He played on an international basketball tour in North Macedonia with Athletes In Action, an organization in which Baylor director of basketball operations Bill Peterson coached as Coleman joined players from Baylor, Texas A&M and Texas State among others.
“That experience taught me to be a leader on and off the court,” said Coleman, a quiet, soft-spoken leader who is trying add a more authoritative voice. “It showed me that I can try to assert my dominance in the paint and be a good role player.”
Coleman’s role within the Northwestern team has been as an offensive focal point, excelling against high-level competition while the Demons played seven teams within the top 100 NET rankings.
He scored a career-high 22 points at Tulsa and has added 20 at SMU, 19 against Oklahoma and double doubles at LSU (16 points, 13 rebounds) and Texas A&M (12 points, 11 rebounds).
Coleman has accomplished that feat with great efficiency, shooting 70 percent against the above opponents and 60 percent for most of the season before recently slipping to 53 percent.
“I think the summer tour was huge for his confidence because it’s an opportunity to go play with higher-level guys and allows you to size yourself up and see where you are,” McConathy said. “If you’re that kind of player, which I think Kendal is, it gives you the drive that’s necessary to be one of those kind of players.”
With the emergence of the transfer portal, that’s also led to a lot of extended hugs in the postgame handshake line for a player whose sole Division I offer was NSU.
But with 350 points and more 300 rebounds already, Coleman could easily become just the third Demon to score 1,500 points and grab 1,000 rebounds, and the first since Billy Reynolds in 1977.
Photo by CHRIS REICH/NSU