Former Gator Kendal Coleman picks California Baptist

CHANGING SCENERY:  Kendal Coleman (middle), a Captain Shreve product, has chosen his new college basketball home, California Baptist, after an unsuccessful season at LSU. (Photo by PETER FOREST, Journal Sports).

By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports

Kendal Coleman has hit the reset button on his college basketball career and the former Captain Shreve Gator, after starring at Northwestern State and mostly sitting this past season at LSU, is headed west.

Coleman retweeted a report Wednesday that he will join the California Baptist basketball program for his final two seasons. Coleman, a 6-8 forward, will apparently have to sit out the 2023-24 season as a second-time Division I transfer, according to recently-emphasized NCAA regulations.

California Baptist, located in Riverside, Calif., on the east side of the sprawling Los Angeles metro area, is part of the Division I Western Athletic Conference that includes former Southland Conference members Stephen F. Austin and Abilene Christian, along with Grand Canyon, Utah Valley, New Mexico State and UT-Arlington, among others.  The Lancers were 17-16 this past season.

Coleman averaged eight minutes per game in a reserve role with LSU this winter, producing 2.3 points and 2.1 rebounds per game in 21 appearances. He chose LSU after he reportedly had as many as 40 programs, including Oklahoma, Memphis and Marquette, providing him offers after his breakout 2021-22 season at Northwestern State.

The Demons and new coach Rick Cabrera were among the programs hoping to land Coleman for the remainder of his college career. Texas Southern was another reportedly among the contenders.

The 6-8 Coleman was a first-team All-Southland Conference selection as a second-year freshman in 2021-22 at Northwestern.

In his final season in Natchitoches, the 220-pound Coleman was Northwestern’s leading scorer and rebounder. He started all 30 games he played in Mike McConathy’s last season as head coach, averaging 15.4 points and 10.1 rebounds while shooting 54.6 percent from the field and 58.2 percent overall on free throws while SFA and ACU were playing their final seasons in the Southland.

At the line, he started the season struggling, sinking under 50 percent in non-conference action, after making 69.6 percent as a true freshman. He found his touch in conference play when he hit 70.4 percent of his free throws.

Also in league play, he expanded his reliable shooting range to 15-18 feet, creating matchup challenges for less agile post players.  His averages in 14 Southland games were 15.6 points and 11.5 rebounds, and he blocked 27 shots as he earned a place on the five-member Southland All-Defensive Team.

Coleman ranked second in the conference and in the top 35 nationally with his 55 percent shooting aim from the floor. He led the Southland in rebounding, and in defensive rebounds, ranking 12th nationally with a 7.4 average.

As a first-year freshman in the COVID-impacted 2020-21 season, Coleman averaged 6.8 points and 6.5 rebounds in 29 games, with no starting assignments. He blocked 33 shots.

At Shreve, Coleman led the state in blocked shots as a junior, then helped the Gators to a 26-7 season in his senior year. He graduated with a 3.9 grade point average.