Any time Syracuse basketball gets a hometown player to sign on and join the team, it is something to be excited about. The addition of DaJuan Coleman in the class of 2012 was no exception.
Not only did he attend high school right up the street from the Carrier Dome at Jamesville-Dewitt, but his last name reminded long-time fans of a former player that had quite the career in the orange and blue.
His high school resumé was not too shabby either. He was a McDonald’s All-American and New York’s Mr. Basketball his senior year. Expectations were high for Coleman. So far they have not been met, and the journey to get there will continue to take a detour for at least the near future.
The status for Coleman in 2014-15, after missing the majority of the 2013-14 season due to an unknown injury to his left knee, is still in jeopardy according to head coach Jim Boeheim. Boeheim spoke to the media on Wednesday at the Carmelo K. Anthony Center upon his return from Spain and the FIBA World Cup with Team USA, stating that the junior big man is still battling to recover in time for the season and they will not have an answer as to when or if he will play until November. Boeheim reiterated the severity of the injury:
"I've said consistently that this was a bad knee surgery. This wasn't a go-in-and-fix-this-ligament type of thing. He's worked unbelievably hard, as hard as you could ever ask anyone, every day. His surgery was different, more complex, more complicated, than any of the other surgeries we've had." (via Syracuse.com)
The process has been long for Coleman, but a lot of work seems to still be lying ahead of him. As he continues to progress and complete all of the steps on the path to recovery, Boeheim and his coaches will need to find a replacement for his big presence.
That will be easier said than done, because if the Orange lose Coleman for the year or a significant period of time the team will have some depth issues at the center position. Senior Rakeem Christmas would be the only returning player to have played minutes at the center position. With long-time backup Baye-Moussa Keita now a Syracuse alum, Chinonso Obokoh will be the only other scholarship center on the roster.
We do not know much about Obokoh other than the fact that he redshirted his first year on campus. He is a native of Nigeria who played high school ball in Rochester at Bishop Kearney. As far as on the court, the 6’10" center was only a three-star ESPN recruit and is still developing his game and size (explaining the redshirt).
Heading into this season, Obokoh could be going straight from no playing time to now becoming the backup center behind Christmas, who will also see an enhanced role compared to his previously anticipated one. They will have to be ready if Coleman can't go, and so will the rest of the Orange.
In the best interest of Coleman and the team, it would be awesome to see him out there. As a junior and one of the only big men on this year’s team, it would have been a wonderful opportunity for him to have a breakout year coming off of two injury-riddled seasons. That still can happen, but for now he will have to keep waiting.