ASU men’s basketball assistant coach Anthony Coleman steps down
With the third member of Bobby Hurley’s staff departing in the last several weeks, it was important for now former assistant coach Anthony Coleman to put in “big bold letters” that his career change had nothing to do with ASU’s head coach or the general direction of the program, but rather due to personal reasons, as he joins the Excel Sports Management player agency, the agency that represented Coleman as a player. Coleman stated that his precise duties there are yet to be determined.
“At the end of the day, this was a family decision,” Coleman said, “I want to be around my wife and my children a heck of a lot more as being part of the pandemic and gaining that time with my family that I never truly had. It was special and something I wasn't willing to relinquish.
“I love coaching men’s basketball; I love coaching with my brother, coach Hurley. Bobby and I are going to be not just friends, but we're gonna be family for life. And I want people to understand that. I'm not leaving because of the season or people putting out rumors about him (Hurley) leaving. It has nothing to with that. He’ll continue to coach at Arizona State and getting them back to their winning ways. I know that this place is going to skyrocket again next year.”
His departure follows the departures of Rashon Burno, who is the new head at Northern Illinois and Eric Brown, who was the Director of Operations who is joining the New Mexico staff.
What has been a challenging year for many families, even outside the sports world, certainly didn't allude someone such as Coleman, whose job demands required him to frequently being away from his wife Nellie and their three children (ages 1, 3, and 5), Coleman said that now in a non-coaching capacity, he can better reconnect with his family and formulate a real relationship. A pandemic-influenced season ironically also allowed him to spend more time with his family, but with the upcoming campaign expected to run a normal schedule, Coleman didn’t wish to be away from his for long stretches of time.
“I just I could not give up, the bond formulae with my children and my wife,” Coleman admitted. “It’s 24/7/365. There is no downtime, and in major holidays…I haven’t been around (his family) during Thanksgiving in years. If it weren't for the pandemic, I would have missed Christmas. There are weddings, funerals, and other things that you miss as a consequence because, again, you have to sacrifice to take care of your other family of the players and staff. You miss things that other people take for granted, and that's part of the job.
I kept thinking on certain road trips, ‘I'm excited for the game, but damn, I miss my family.’ And you got to think that this year is probably the best you've encountered because you didn't have to go on the road and recruit. And it's only going to get worse, and you let all that time all those memories that we've cultivated and built up from the family side start to deteriorate in the normal hustle and bustle of a college coaching life.
“I had the hard conversation, telling one of my closest friends in coach Hurley that I’m not going to do it more, and he rose to the occasion like I knew he would and said, ‘you know what, family is first. People don’t give him credit just seeing him on the sidelines for just how good of a human being he is and a family person. And our friendship is our personal friendship is always gonna supersede our business relationship as coaches. That made me feel good about what was going on and maybe know that I am making the right decision. He knew the importance of family to me, and he supported me in that, especially in a year of a major change for him.”
Coleman was one of the longest-tenured assistants in Tempe under Hurley. He was hired in 2016 and resigned there years later for a one-year stint on the Colorado staff before re-joining the staff this past year. Coleman who an assistant manager of sports marketing at Adidas right before he was hired by Hurley was instrumental in landing prominent Adidas affiliated grassroots program players such as forward Romello White and 2019 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and Oklahoma City Thunder star guard Luguentz Dort. Coleman’s role mainly included coaching ASU’s frontcourt players, and he offered his perspective on the development of junior-to-be Jalen Graham, who will be a significant player for the Sun Devils, a team that is expected to have nine newcomers when the 2021-22 season tips-off.
“JG had the luxury in his freshman year of playing behind Romello and Taeshon (Cherry),” Coleman described. “So when he got in, he was a little bit more comfortable because he saw the pace of the game and seeing how he could potentially affect the game on both the offensive and defensive side. And this year, he has kind of been thrown into the fire (White transferred to Ole Miss and Cherry missed nearly the entire season due to personal reasons). I think we all saw the change in growth in Jalen Graham as the season progressed. And I know that JG made a commitment, not only to himself, but to coach Hurley and said that he'd dedicated his time, effort, and energy in being in the weight room and in the gym. And I think that translated; he started getting some double-doubles and extending his range.
“We saw the Jalen Graham that we as a staff knew that we had. He has a high-level skill set. I expect nothing but great things from JG, and all he has to do is stay the course, trust in coach Hurley and trust the system, and play with great effort and energy day in and day out. If he does those things, I think he’s going to be a phenomenal basketball player within the ASU family.”
Coleman remarked that he felt that a huge burden has been lifted off of him now that he embarks on a new career, but that’s not to say that he leaves ASU without some proverbial mixed feelings.
“There's a part of me that feels really bad. I'm leaving one of my closest friends,” Coleman said, “and I'm giving up a profession that I really, really enjoyed a lot. But there is a sense of relief because, again, every day, I get to see my children and my wife and making memories with them, and there's no more
second-guessing. I made a decision, and I can live with that decision. I’m going to be honest; whatever I do, even if I’m gonna fall flat on my face, I want to feel I want to be content in my decision because I'm making it for the right reasons. Making it because I want to be around my children and my wife.
“I am going to still support a friend (Hurley) and I'm still going to be his biggest cheerleader. I'm gonna be forever grateful and thankful for him and his friendship and his mentorship. And I think I think and I know that's not I'm not gonna say I think I know that's level of change between the two of us. So I'm fortunate I'm lucky. I'm blessed to have him in my life.”
“I'm still going to call him up to talk shop. So I hope this is the best of both worlds.”
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