Former Foothill guard Marvin Coleman proudly represented his hometown during his prep career by repeating a phrase to his high school and club basketball teammates — “702, that’s my city.”
A short and simple ode to Las Vegas, where he grew up hoping to one day play for UNLV.
And where he started his first collegiate game for the Rebels on Wednesday night.
Coleman, now a sophomore guard with UNLV, overcame a tepid recruitment. He become a walk-on turned rotation guard who started at the point for the first time Wednesday against Pacific.
The 6-foot-3-inch floor general couples a modest demeanor with intangible leadership attributes. All of which impressed UNLV coach T.J. Otzelberger and earned him a scholarship in May.
“Meeting him and getting to know his personality, he’s passionate about this university and he really wants this team to do well,” Otzelberger said about awarding Coleman a scholarship. “That was a big part of it for me, wanting guys who really want to be here. Once he got on the court, working with him, we saw some ability. …When the opportunity presented itself for him, he stepped up and answered the call.”
Coleman played four years for the Falcons and emerged as one of the best players in the city during his junior year of 2016-17, averaging 13.9 points 8.0 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. He played for the Las Vegas Prospects in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League before his senior season of 2017-18, and averaged 16.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists in his final year with the Falcons.
But recruiting interest from schools like Pacific and Fresno State waned throughout the course of his senior season, and he opted to walk on at UNLV to play for former Rebels coach Marvin Menzies.
“He always had a plan.” said former Falcons basketball coach Kevin Soares, now the boys basketball coach at Bonanza. “He wanted to stay close to home so he could be around, help out with his family. It’s a credit to him for him sticking it out and grinding it out.”
Coleman playing sparingly as a freshman, averaging 4.2 minutes per game in 11 appearances as the Rebels limped to a 17-4 record. He maintained a positive attitude throughout the year, though, and was subsequently rewarded by Otzelberger.
The unsigned senior became a Mountain West starter in some 20 or so months.
“I just trusted the process,” Coleman said. “Every single day, working hard, and as my role got bigger, a couple things happened that made my role expand. … When he put me on scholarship, it was just a weight off my shoulders.”
Coleman played 33 minutes on Wednesday, logging six points, eight rebounds two assists and two steals in a 74-66 loss to Pacific. He’s averaging modest totals of 1.9 points, 2.4 rebounds and 0.5 assists in eight games, but is building confidence as he continues to learn the tendencies of his coach and teammates.
Otzelberger remains impressed by Coleman’s intangibles.
“His communication. His ability to get us organized offensively, defensively with schemes. His ability to pump other guys up,” Otzelberger said. “He’s really done a great job for us and that’s why I put him in the starting lineup.”
The 702, still his city.
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