NBA then FBI, future Duke basketball savant sets sights high

Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

A Duke basketball commit’s lofty career goals line up with his reputation among his teammates, friends, and teachers as both a whiz kid and a leader.

The following prediction is intended purely as a compliment and show of respect: Henry Coleman will one day join Shane Battier atop the list of the all-time nerdiest, friendliest Duke basketball captains.

"“First off, you hear Henry before you see him,” English teacher Maria Bartz said, per a Friday feature on the website for Coleman’s Trinity Episcopal School in Richmond, Va., an observation that suggests he is ready-made to fill Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s longstanding requirement for his defenders to be loud communicators. “He’ll come down the hallway, belting a country song, saying hello to any students and teachers he passes.“Then he brings that energy into the classroom.”"

As for what Duke basketball fans can expect Coleman to bring to Coach K Court next fall, in one word, leadership. In more words, the 6-foot-7, 220-pound power forward — a four-star who ranks No. 40 on the 247Sports 2020 Composite — will bring his sharp-witted game, well-built frame, tough-as-nails mentality, instinctive rebounding, strong defense, burgeoning outside shot, and in-check ego.

All this already sounds a lot like the multifaceted skill set and others-first personality of Battier, who ranked No. 7 on the Sporting News’ 2010 list of smartest athletes, received requests in 2014 from the Michigan Democratic Party to run for the United States Senate, and began his Battier Take Charge Foundation years ago with the aim “to inspire a new generation of potential leaders.”

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Although Battier ranked significantly higher than Coleman as a high school senior, he was the exact same weight and played the same position; plus, both “good guys” possess a similar level of athleticism. See if this doesn’t also sound Battier-esque:

"“[My parents] always told me to balance it [all] and to go through school like a regular student,” Coleman said in the feature, which also noted that the 17-year-old always makes time for his friends and loves to fish."

Furthermore, Coleman’s perfect pronunciation and deep vocabulary make him sound like a mix between Battier and Steve Urkel. Just listen to his thoughtful tone when articulating his responses to Phenom Hoop Report’s Keion Robinson following his commitment to Duke on Sept. 27:

The tweeted video reveals Coleman’s vision of possibly working in an NBA front office one day — by the way, Battier is currently the vice president of basketball development and analytics for the Miami Heat.

But Coleman also hints at another future career; more on such career is coming up here in a moment. First, here is some more insight from an insider into what her star pupil is all about.

"“You have to appreciate Henry because he is a total Titan and a huge fan of all Trinity sports and athletes,” explained Betsy Reid, who teaches Coleman AP English and is also his advisor when it comes to his duties as student body president. “I love seeing him cheering for his friends in football, field hockey, or lacrosse — he’s usually in the front of the student section cheering the loudest!”"

Reid wasn’t finished dishing out praise, though, as she touched on what makes Coleman the ideal captain of his peers:

"“I love that he’s always thinking about how one thing impacts another. Henry is an observer and a thinker, and he’s really comfortable sharing his thoughts with everyone.”"

Bartz, the aforementioned English teacher in this article, concurred:

"“He has a big personality but it doesn’t overtake others because he won’t let it. He welcomes other people’s ideas, opinions, thoughts, and will make them comfortable to share because he is also putting himself out there with his own ideas.”"

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While all these traits should serve the Blue Devils well, Coleman has longterm, long-held plans of majoring in forensic science and serving humanity by solving crimes. According to the article, working as a forensic scientist for the FBI is in a tie with playing in the NBA as his dream job.

"“[It’s] something that I’ve loved since I was five years old,” Coleman recounted. “I used to walk around the house pretending to be a police officer. I’ve always been interested in why crime happens.”"

Needless to say, a large part of the reason Coleman hopped on board with #TheBrotherhood was the opportunity to earn a degree from an elite university. In other words, he’s likely to stick around in Durham long enough to do so while becoming a Duke basketball fixture.

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That being said, based on Coleman’s academic accomplishments thus far, he’s likely to require no more than three years as a Duke student to turn his tassel to the left.

Coleman also pointed out that another factor in his decision was the school’s atmosphere, which reminded him of his beloved Trinity — makes sense, in a symbolic way, considering Duke University began as Trinity College.

"“When I stepped on [Duke’s] campus, I knew it was home,” he said."

It all sounds like Duke fans can realistically dream that Coleman will refuse to leave “home” until doing what the most renowned Duke basketball nerd, whose No. 31 forever hangs inside Cameron Indoor Stadium, did as a senior in 2001.

Yes, all the tools are there for Coleman to one day become the loud voice — as Bartz said, his is the type you hear clearly and well before his arrival — that leads a group of Blue Devils to a national championship.

By his side on the journey — at least for one year — will be the other four 2020 Duke basketball commits to date: five-star point guard Jeremy Roach, five-star combo guard D.J. Steward, five-star small forward Jalen Johnson, and four-star power forward Jaemyn Brakefield.

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Plus, Coleman’s best friend, four-star center Mark Williams, sure has the look of a future Blue Devil and will announce his decision on Nov. 1. Meanwhile, fellow four-star center Hunter Dickinson, who will visit Duke next weekend and likely choose a college soon thereafter, could cap off what would be a seven-deep haul and almost assuredly give the Blue Devils their fifth of the nation’s past seven No. 1 recruiting classes.

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