This was not how Ron Coleman’s senior year at Romulus High
School was supposed to begin.

Before the first week of basketball practices was over, the
starting center quit the team and Coleman, the team’s MVP
swingman and Michigan’s lone incoming freshman, would have to
take his place.

Coleman, who will likely be the Wolverines’ first guard
off the bench, would now have to go under the basket and battle big
men for rebounds and loose balls. The role he would have as a
senior would be nothing like his role at Michigan.

On offense, Romulus Head Coach Nate Oats tried to set up plays
for him on the perimeter, but for the most part, Coleman had no
choice but to do the team’s dirty work.

“He wasn’t that happy playing center, but he never
complained,” Oats said. “It was tough because there
were games where we had a hard time getting him shots, but he never
let his frustrations get the best of him.”

In the end, Coleman made the most of his time in the paint. He
averaged more than 20 points and 10 rebounds a game this season and
says he’s developed a post-up game that he can use against
smaller opponents.

Coleman’s willingness to play center is hardly a surprise
to the people who know him.

Coleman is a low-key person who doesn’t crave the
spotlight, and his actions have demonstrated that time and time
again.

That’s why on his AAU team, The Family, he played down low
(again) while Joe Crawford and Malik Hairston, two similar players,
played on the perimeter and were the stars on the team.

And that’s why he committed to Michigan more than two
years ago and never second-guessed the decision, even though other
schools kept calling.

Coleman salvaged an otherwise disappointing recruiting year for
the Wolverines. Crawford and Al Horford, a forward from Grand
Ledge, revoked verbal commitments to Michigan, while Hairston left
schools, Michigan included, waiting until this past May before
choosing Oregon.

Coleman came to Ann Arbor a month ago, and about three times a
week this summer he’s been playing pickup games at Crisler
Arena with fellow Wolverines. Oftentimes, he’s been matched
with Abram and is quickly catching up with his experienced
teammates.

Coleman, who is listed at 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds, is confident
he’ll be ready to step in and contribute when the season
starts in the fall.

“The coaches told me to focus on shooting and rebounding,
and I think I can do that,” Coleman said. “But to take
that next step I need to work on quickness and ball handling so
that I can become more of a slasher-type player.”

Though he’s always been a quiet person, Oats sensed that
Coleman was becoming more of a presence in his high school
team’s locker room.

“He’s not a real vocal kid, but that started to
change his senior year,” Oats said. “He’s always
been a leader by example, and this year, he took more of a
leadership role and really began to speak up.”

Now that Bernard Robinson Jr. is a Charlotte Bobcat, Abram,
Harris and Daniel Horton are expected to be the starting guards,
with Coleman and Sherrod Harrell as their backups.

“He’s got a great opportunity to step in and
contribute,” Oats said. “They lost Bernard, and Ron
plays the same position. He knows the chance is there and
he’s working hard so that he can step right in and have a
great freshman year.”

For Coleman, Michigan was one of the easiest choices he’s
ever made. Aside from a visit to Michigan State, he never even
considered any other schools.

Coleman grew up in Atlanta with his mother but would often visit
his uncle and aunt, Jeffrey and Jennifer Robertson, in Romulus. And
many times, Jeffrey would take Coleman to Crisler. Then, during the
summer before ninth grade, Coleman moved in with the Robertsons so
that he could have a father figure in his life.

Coleman quickly got familiar with Michigan basketball. Coleman
was on the same AAU team as Abram and Graham Brown, played with
Brent Petway and Courtney Sims at a basketball camp and also knew
Harris. Before his junior year of high school, Coleman had made his
choice.

“When coach Amaker came here and started turning around
the program, I knew this was the place for me,” Coleman said.
“He’s a great coach, and I really think he’ll
help me take that next step.”

“Some people weren’t sure he should have made such a
quick decision, but we were happy,” Jennifer said. “He
said he liked coach Amaker and that was it. We would have supported
him wherever he said he wanted to go, but Michigan is a great
school and close by.”

Coleman is especially excited to get started in Ann Arbor
because he feels he was overlooked during high school. Coleman was
disappointed to miss out on most awards and All-Star games after
his senior year and is using that to fuel him for this year.

“He definitely feels like he’s been
overlooked,” Oats said. “On his AAU team, Joe and Malik
got most of the attention, but Ron can play with those two.
It’s given him extra motivation to show what he can do.
He’s a better player than people realize and he’s been
working hard to show everyone that.”

Fans may know more about the players Michigan didn’t get
than Coleman, but that doesn’t bother him.

“It’s not a big deal if people don’t know me
going in,” Coleman said. “They’ll know who I am
when the season starts and I get out on the floor. That’s all
that matters.”

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