Northwestern State center Kendal Coleman tasted college basketball in the Southland Conference as a freshman, and now he can say he’s tasted an international flavor of basketball.
Coleman excelled in five games in North Macedonia earlier this month, traveling with Athletes in Action, a Christian organization that organizes tours around the world with the goal of personal and competitive development.
The Captain Shreve product certainly achieved the competitive development, averaging around 15 points in the five American wins against U20 teams from around the region.
“We had three or four practices with each other (AIA group) before we played games, and we built chemistry with each other and got to know each other,” said Coleman, who was one of eight players, including a pair of Baylor players, one from Texas State and another from Texas A&M. “I played pretty well, was able to run the floor, get to my spot on the block and work in the post.
“Our first game was rocky, but we were able to run our sets after that and got a lot better.”
The American group faced regional teams from North Macedonia as well as teams from Ukraine and Austria among other places.
The squad was coached by Baylor assistant coach Bill Peterson, a former assistant coach of NSU’s Mike McConathy at Bossier Parish Community College.
Coleman said he gleaned advice from Peterson, who has coaching experience as an NBA player development coach and in the NBA’s D-League.
“Coach Peterson is a good person, and I’ll take stuff back with me to NSU and hopefully to get to a professional level,” Coleman said. “He wants me to start jumping rope to help with my footwork.
“He showed me how if I run the floor more, I can get easier buckets.”
As an NSU freshman, Coleman averaged seven points and seven rebounds while leading the team with 33 blocks.
McConathy said Coleman matured during and after the season and has developed into a more curious player.
“He weighs 223 or 224 pounds, and he’s wondering if that’s heavy enough to do what he needs to do in the post,” McConathy said. “He’s shown a great deal of interest in getting where he needs to be to succeed.
“Kendal hasn’t scratched the surface of the player he can be and will be. He’s matured a lot, and he’s starting to understand the perspective it takes to play at a higher level. (Peterson and his staff) held these players accountable and to a high standard, and that’s important to the maturity level of young people, to know what’s expected of them.”
The 10-day trip to North Macedonia wasn’t just about basketball.
Coleman said he’ll have plenty of memories from his first trip outside of the United States.
“The culture was different and the food was different, but it was a great experience,” Coleman said. “One night, I tried some mushroom soup, and it was ok, but I probably wouldn’t eat it again.
“We went to downtown (Skopje, Macedonia) and went shopping, it’s a nice area. We went on a little lake and saw some of the outskirts. I’ll definitely keep in touch with the guys on the trip.”
Pictured: Kendal Coleman (center) poses with members of his Athletes in Action basketball team after a game in North Macedonia. Coleman and the group played five games against regional U20 teams in North Macedonia.