By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports
Kendal Coleman was not heavily recruited during his Captain Shreve High School basketball career.
That changed, in a major way, this season and especially lately after his breakout campaign at Northwestern State. He reportedly had as many as 40 programs, including Oklahoma, Memphis and Marquette, providing him offers that may have included NIL deals that outpaced anything new Demons’ coach Corey Gipson could propose.
The 6-8 Coleman officially entered the NCAA transfer portal March 14 and Monday announced on Twitter his decision to join the rebuilding LSU program with new coach Matt McMahon, former head coach at Murray State.
“Thank you to all the coaches that recruited me and gave me an opportunity, but with that being said I will be furthering my academic and athletic career at LSU,” he wrote in a Tweet Monday afternoon.
The Tigers have had key players from this year’s NCAA Tournament team announce they’re entering the NBA Draff and three others have entered the transfer portal after the regime change created by Will Wade’s dismissal as LSU’s coach.
Coleman was a first-team All-Southland Conference selection as a second-year freshman this season for Northwestern. He has three seasons of eligibility remaining.
In his announcement that he was entering the portal, Coleman made sure to offer gratitude for his experience with veteran coach Mike McConathy in Natchitoches. McConathy’s 23-year tenure with the Demons ended on March 14, a few hours before Coleman entered the portal.
“First off I would like to thank Northwestern State University for welcoming me and helping me become a better student-athlete,” wrote Coleman that day. “I have created many memories with my coaches and teammates. With that being said I will be entering my name into the transfer portal.”
The 220-pound Coleman was Northwestern’s leading scorer and rebounder from the beginning of the season. He started all 30 games he played, averaging 15.4 points and 10.1 rebounds while shooting 54.6 percent from the field and 58.2 percent overall on free throws.
Notably, he scored 16 points and snagged 13 rebounds in a Dec. 14 loss at LSU, sinking 8 of 11 shots in an 89-49 defeat to a then Top 25 LSU squad.
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.