CHAMPAIGN — Illinois basketball has taken some hits to the chin when it comes to recruiting Chicago the past five years. The city’s best talent has frequently left the Windy City to suit up at other universities but Ron ‘Chin’ Coleman could be the guy to help change that.
“When I got the opportunity to coach at the Division 1 level I was like, ‘Yeah, I got to shake this ‘Chin’ thing. I got to be more professional.’ Then we tried it for like a hot week,” Coleman said. “They said if we changed your name then you don’t have anymore street credibility so we couldn’t shake it. I tried to shake it so it’s kind of like a bad cold that won’t go away so I’m just sticking on to it.”
It’s a name he should probably keep because people know who Chin Coleman is. He already has deep roots in the Chicago scene, spending time as head coach of the Mac Irvin Fire and an assistant at Illinois-Chicago.
“I’ve paid my dues and I’ve been a pillar or a landmark in Chicago basketball for some time so I think that I have a lot of respect, that that means a lot to the city,” said Coleman.
Some of the city’s best talent is already taking note.
“Being that they’re my hometown school, it means a lot that they show interest in me,” Simeon junior Talen Horton-Tucker said. The rising product already has an Illini offer. “Bringing Coach Coleman in, it means a lot. He has a good relationship with coaches and players in Chicago and Coach Underwood is a great coach and I’d like to see him.”
But Coleman and Illini head coach Brad Underwood are quick to correct you if you think Coleman is *only a Chicago guy.
“Is that my wheelhouse? Is that where I was born and raised? Yes, but I wouldn’t be put in just that box,” Coleman said.
“I’m excited about Chin because he’s gonna get the label as a Chicago guy but he’s not,” Underwood added. “He’s a guy that nationally has tremendous connections.”
Coleman and the Illini staff have already spent time across the nation getting their message out about the new-look Illini, who now have four open scholarships for next season after sophomore D.J. Williams announced his intent to transfer on Monday.