Point guard became a big need for Nebraska very late in offseason when a felony charge relating to the gambling investigation in Iowa cast Ahron Ulis’ status for the 2023-24 season in doubt, and the Nebraska staff moved swiftly to address that need by landing Ball State grad transfer Jarron “Boogie” Coleman.
“We are pleased to be able to add Jarron to our roster,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said in a release after Coleman signed with Nebraska last week. “He is a big point guard who has a very high basketball IQ. His skillset meshes well with the other players on our roster. He led his team in 3-pointers each of the last two seasons (2022-23 at Ball State and 2021-22 at Missouri) and was one of the best players in the Mid-American Conference last season. Boogie also has power conference experience, as he started at Missouri for a season and has a good understanding of what it takes to play at this level.”
Coleman was a second-team All-MAC selection last season after leading the Cardinals with 14.3 points and 3.8 assists per game while shooting 35.2% from 3. It was his second stint at Ball State, as he spent his first two collegiate seasons there before transferring to Missouri for the 2020-21 season.
To get a better feel for what the Indianapolis native will bring to Nebraska in his lone season in Lincoln, I dove into his film and statistics from last season with the help of Synergy Sports.
Off the top, Coleman logged more than 500 possessions between his scoring and passing last season. Individually, he scored 0.840 points per possession (PPP), ranked in the 37th percentile nationally and considered “average.” Add his playmaking and his output jumps to 1.143 points per possession plus assists (61st percentile, “good”).
Coleman’s strength is his jump shot, which accounted for 64.5% of his field goal attempts. He shot 34.4% (11-of-32) on jumpers out to 17 feet and 31.6% (6-of-19) on shots from 17 feet out to the 3-point line, both percentages considered “average.” Coleman shot 36.5 on catch-and-shoot opportunities (60th percentile, “good”) — 6-of-12 on 2s and 48-of-136 on 3s. He was merely average on unguarded looks at 34.4% (2-of-6 on 2s and 19-of-55 on 3s), ranked in the 39th percentile. He was even better on guarded looks at 37.9% (4-of-6 on 2s and 29-of-81 on 3s), ranking in the 77th percentile (“very good”). Off-the-dribble jumpers were a mixed bag as he shot 32.2% (19-of-59) on 3s but only 26.3% (10-of-38) on 2s, equaling out a an “average” ranking in the 50th percentile.
Unfortunately, Coleman wasn’t very effective closer to the basket. He was ranked in the 15th percentile (“poor”) in runners, shooting 25.9% (7-of-27). At the rim, he was almost as bad, shooting 49.5% (45-of-91), ranked in the 21st percentile and considered “below average”. He went 2-for-2 on dunks, meaning the rest were all layups.
With the shooting foundation established, let’s dive into specific play types.
Though Coleman played the point for Ball State, he was far from ball dominant and actually shared the primary ball-handling duties with another guard. His most frequent play type at 29.1% of his possessions was spot-up, which includes both catch-and-shoot opportunities and attacking closeouts off the catch. Coleman scored 0.917 PPP (53rd percentile, “good”) and shot 33.1%.
Just over 70% of his spot-up possessions ended in catch-and-shoot 3s and he shot 30.7% (31-of-101), scoring 0.921 PPP. He put the ball on the deck 42 times, shooting 40% overall including 10-of-26 on 2s and 4-of-9 on 3s.
First and foremost, Coleman is pretty confident in his shot, taking jumpers from all over the court including from a few feet behind the line, with little heed to a defender contesting. He’ll also size up his defender after a closeout with a jab step here and there and then rise up for the shot anyway. He moves well off the ball to make it easy for his teammates to find him. He his a high, clean release with good footwork and overall shot prep, but unfortunately it doesn’t go in quite as often as you’d like (and his percentages have fluctuated throughout his career).
Taking the jumper is definitely his first instinct as he doesn’t often attack closeouts, and when he does he rarely gets to the rim. Coleman isn’t terribly dynamic off the bounce or explosive athletically, using a more methodical, physical approach. A lot of his 2s were tough in-between shots, though he does seem fairly proficient with his step-back, particularly from 3.
If you add in his passing possessions, pick-and-roll actually shoots up into first place at nearly 200 possessions. We’ll start with his individual pick-and-roll offense, which made up 20.2% of his possessions. The results were pretty ugly.
Coleman scored just 0.5 PPP (12th percentile, “poor”) and shot 21.4% from the field with a 24% turnover rate. He shot 29.2% (7-of-24) from 3, which isn’t very good. However, the bigger problem was his 2-point percentage — 17.4%. He made just eight of his 46 attempts and got to the foul line just three times.
His lack of dynamic handle and explosiveness shows up again here as he struggles to create separation and generate easy looks, but the highlights below do show the ability to make some tough shots.
Whereas Coleman struggled to score efficiently in the pick-and-roll himself, he’s a very proficient passer in ball screen situations.
According to Synergy, he dished out 53 passes to teammates spotting up after a ball screen, 22 passes to the screener (either rolling to the rim or popping to the perimeter) and 11 passes to cutters.
Coleman displays a great feel for the court, seeing open teammates and delivering the ball on time and on target, and he can make the difficult skip pass in addition to the easy kick-outs or swing passes when extra defenders commit. He does a good job of using ball fakes to shift coverage. He can be a little turnover-prove trying to hit the roll man, but he also delivered some dimes.
Ball State had no qualms about pushing the pace at times, and Coleman got plenty of reps in the open floor — 16% of his individual possessions (79 in total) plus another 28 as a passer. Once again, there were positives and negatives. He scored 0.949 PPP (36th percentile, “average”) while shooting 48.2% from the field with a 20.3% turnover rate and an 8.9% foul rate.
The spread-out nature of the fast break mitigated Coleman’s struggles to create advantages off the dribble with bigger spaces to attack, defenders scrambling to get back in position and limited help-side rotations. He converted 17 of his 26 2-point attempts, finishing at a better rate and showing some craftiness.
He scored 1.0 PPP running the floor off the ball, shooting 4-of-7 on 2s and 8-of-22 on 3s with three turnovers. Leading the break himself, Coleman scored 0.915 PPP, shooting 13-of-19 inside the arc but only 2-of-8 from 3 with some bad attempts and 13 turnovers (a 27.7% giveaway rate). The turnovers (many of which were ball-handling mistakes) and 3s dragged his efficiency down.
Coleman again demonstrates great vision and creativity as a passer in transition. He always seems to see the open man and has a good feel for timing, waiting until the perfect moment to deliver the ball to get his teammates easy looks. Guys like Keisei Tominaga and Brice Williams should definitely benefit from Coleman leading the break in Hoiberg’s up-tempo system.
The first three categories made up over 65% of his possessions, but Ball State took advantage of his skill set in other areas as well. While he’s not a dynamic self-creator in terms of beating his man off the dribble and finishing around the basket, he still found a way to be really effective in isolation situations which made up 9.1% of his possessions. He scored 1.022 PPP (84th percentile, “excellent”), shooting 45.7% from the field with an 11.1% turnover rate and a 15.6% foul rate.
Coleman’s struggles to finish through contact and convert floaters showed up again here as he shot just 10-of-23 inside the arc, but he hit half his 12 3-point attempts to bump up his efficiency (although one of them was an accidental bank). This is where we see a heavy dose of the step-back jumper, and he also does a good job of taking advantage of switches to either get to that step-back or beat his man to the basket using crossovers and hesitations. Synergy only logged 10 passing possessions for him out of isolation situations but he once again showed good vision when opponents sent an extra defender his way, mostly on kick-out passes.
At 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, Coleman has great size for a point guard, and he felt comfortable using that size in the post. He logged 32 post-up scoring possessions (6.5%) and another 23 possessions as a passer. Individually, he scored 0.781 PPP (39th percentile, “average”) and shot 41.7% with a 12.5% turnover rate and a 15.6% foul rate.
He missed all of the fadeaway jumpers he attempted and still didn’t finish great with contact, which dragged down his efficiency, but he used his body well to get to his spots, showing solid footwork and great patience as he backed his man down with multiple dribbles before rising up. Synergy had him at 3-for-5 on hook shots last year.
We saw last year with Sam Griesel that Hoiberg likes to invert his offense and play through his point guard in the post, and Coleman could give him that option. He’s also a better passer than he is a scorer in the post, reading double teams well to find cutters or open spot-up shooters.
The last play type I’ll highlight here is off screen, which made up 5.5% of his possessions (27 in total). He scored 1.222 PPP (88th percentile, “excellent”) and shot 54.2%. He knocked down six of his eight 3-point attempts — which is incredible even with the small sample size — and seven of his 16 2-point attempts, most of which were mid-range jumpers.
Ball State ran a lot of baseline out-of-bounds plays for him which often saw him setting a screen then running off a screen from someone else to get to that mid-range shot. A lot of his 3s came off flare screen or pin-down actions. He also leveraged his gravity to get into the lane a few times as defenders closed out hard to chase him off his spot.
An interesting note: Synergy has Coleman shooting 11-of-16 with a foul coming off screens to his left and just 2-of-8 with two turnovers to his right.
Coleman logged 26 total possessions taking handoffs or cutting off the ball, but he wasn’t particularly effective with either action, shooting 6-of-21. He didn’t finish well getting downhill off the handoffs and most of his cuts ended up in mid-range jumpers rather than shots at the rim.
Just like we saw on offense, Coleman isn’t terribly athletic, but he is big and long with good feel, and those physical traits shape how he defends.
He guarded nearly 100 spot-up possessions last year, which typically includes transitioning from help defense into closing out to his man on the perimeter. Here he shows both weaknesses and strengths. On the negative side, he will occasionally get caught flat-footed and blown by, and he struggles to change directions and stay in front of his man. He will close out hard in scramble situations, but he doesn’t always get a hand-up in more controlled close-out situations and opposing players connected from deep at a pretty good rate against him.
However, his size and length allow him to make plays even when he initially gets beat. He does a great job of getting his hands up for deflections or blocks.
Coleman defended nearly as many pick-and-rolls as he did spot-up plays, and the results were similar. Ball State typically had him try to fight through screens rather than switching, though he was up-and-down in his effectiveness. When he didn’t get caught on the screen, he typically worked hard to stay in front of his man, but his lack of quickness hurt him at times. Once again, however, his size and length allowed him to recover and be disruptive with deflections.
Everything I said about his spot-up and pick-and-roll defense applies to his isolation defense as well — he works hard to stay in front and does a good job forcing turnovers but sometimes struggles to hold up against quicker opponents.
In the post, he typically does a good job of staying between his man and the basket and walling up to force tough shots over the top. He’s sometimes slow to react when teams target him with off-ball screens, though.
Overall, I’d say Coleman can fill a role within a solid team defense with good rim protection behind him, but I’m not sure you want him at the point of attack guarding dynamic ball-handlers, which could be a problem if he shares the court with guys like Keisei Tominaga and C.J. Wilcher.
There is definitely a lot to like about Coleman, and Nebraska landing a player of his caliber this late in the process is a big win. However, there are definitely some glaring weaknesses in his game that could hold him back, especially as he makes the leap back up to a high-major conference. Coleman didn’t play against any high-majors last season, and his numbers almost across the board were pretty poor during his stint at Missouri.
While he very well might step onto campus as the best passer on the team, I don’t see a dynamic lead ball-handler that you can count on to create consistently against good competition. While their games aren’t all that similar, I think Coleman is somewhat similar to Jamarques Lawrence in that regard, and I’d expect Nebraska to still try to share the ball-handling duties and run offense through the bigs as Hoiberg has talked about throughout the offseason.