MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Joe Coleman was the ninth man his first year on the Hopkins powerhouse, a young-but-talented prospect who probably would’ve been an instant star on a lot of other high school teams.
“Never once did he complain,” head coach Ken Novak Jr. said amid the postgame celebration on the Target Center floor after the Royals won their third straight Class 4A state championship behind the many skills of their senior small forward.
That’s often the way it goes at Hopkins, which has built quite the program under Novak on the west side of the Twin Cities area. Coleman, announced Wednesday as the Minnesota Associated Press Player of the Year for boys basketball, is the latest star to leave for a major college. The 6-foot-3 brother of former University of Minnesota starter Dan Coleman will join the Gophers in the fall.
So, Joe Coleman was asked after the Royals pulled away from Lake Conference rival Eden Prairie in the title game last Saturday, what is the key to all that success?
“Hard work. We’re always in the gym, always in the weight room,” Coleman said after scoring 22 points and grabbing eight rebounds in his last high school game. “And a coach who knows the game like the back of his hand.”
Novak shrugged off the accolades, but it’s hard to ignore this: The Royals five championships in seven years.
Joining Coleman on the AP’s all-state team are Hopkins teammate Marvin Singleton, Seth Hinrichs of MACCRAY, Shelby Moats of Waconia and Jonah Travis of DeLaSalle.
Coleman averaged about 22 points and six rebounds per game, a strong presence on the glass for a wing player who has an enviable blend of strength, speed and hops. In three state tournament games, he shot 28 for 40 from the floor for 70 percent.
The Mr. Basketball award winner demonstrated his all-around skills late in the championship game by grabbing a pass from a streaking Chambers, flipping it toward the basket with his left hand and getting fouled as the ball dropped in the basket.
Coleman missed the free throw, but he hustled forward and leaped for his own rebound to put it in for another two points. He paused on the baseline to flash a smile and a proud pose for his friends in the student section, before turning serious and sprinting back on defense.
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