When Matt Coleman committed to Texas in January, electing to don burnt orange instead of boasting blue at Duke, the Oak Hill Academy product credited Shaka Smart’s willingness to hand him the keys to the Longhorns offense as a reason he’d be heading south.
The 2017-18 campaign is still young, but it’s already quite clear why Smart, entering a crucial third season on the Forty Acres, entrusted the fate of his offense into the decision making and passing prowess of a four-star freshman.
Generally speaking, the true floor general’s numbers don’t jump off the page at first glance. Coleman failed to register a single assist in 22 minutes during the Longhorns 80-57 win over Lipscomb, and totaled just nine dimes throughout the last three games against Duke, Gonzaga and Florida A&M.
But it’s not exactly what Coleman has been doing, but rather, what he hasn’t been doing that’s been exceptionally impressive thus far.
Seven games into his tenure at Texas, Coleman has recorded just five total turnovers. Such an effort should come as music to the ears of those who looked on as Andrew Jones and Kerwin Roach II turned the ball over 82 and 83 times last season, respectively, with each owning a 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio when it was all said and done.
It’s safe to say things have been a bit better — and more efficient — this season with Coleman running the show.
After dishing out 28 assists through the first seven games of the season — a number that should be considerably higher if the Longhorns weren’t struggling so mightily to shoot the ball — Coleman is currently enjoying an assist-to-turnover ratio of 5.6. That effort currently ranks No. 8 in the entire nation and stands as the best among any freshman in college basketball. Kevin Johnson of Nicholls State ranks as the second-best freshman in terms of his assist-to-turnover ratio at 3.71.
For further context of just how remarkable Coleman has been as an efficient floor general thus far, consider how the six five-star point guards in his class have performed to begin their collegiate careers:
- Trevon Duval — Duke — 2.9 (59th)
- Trae Young — Oklahoma — 2.52 (91st)
- Nick Weatherspoon — Mississippi State — 2.25 (T-124th)
- Collin Sexton — Alabama — 1.92 (T-200th)
- Jaylen Hands — UCLA — 1.42 (N/A)
- Paul Scruggs — Xavier — 1.3 (N/A)
The residual effect of Coleman orchestrating the offense and such an efficient level and thus, taking pressure off others to do the same has been evident with guys like Jones and Roach — each natural scoring guards — averaging career highs with 14.7 and 11.7 points per game, respectively.
Although the sample size is still relatively small, game by game, Coleman is continuing to prove that after being devoid of such a luxury last season, Texas has, in fact, found its point guard of the future.