Chin Coleman ready to continue success at Kentucky


Kentucky men’s basketball assistant coach Ron ‘Chin’ Coleman addresses the media following a Father-Daughter Summer Basketball Camp at the Joe Craft Center on June 19, 2021. 

Barkley Truax

Success has followed Chin Coleman around for as long as he can remember. His competitiveness and winning attitude knows no bounds.

“I’m passionate, man,” Coleman said with a smile. “I wouldn’t say I’m a sore loser … when [I] lose, I take it upon myself, take it personal and think that I can fix it.”

As the saying goes, if you look good, you feel good which means you play (in his case, coach) well. Coleman has an affinity to dress well no matter the occasion. 

“It’s a little bit more than just suits,” Coleman said. “You can’t be called a haberdasher if you can just put on a suit. I can put on a suit, put on ‘street wear’, I can dress down, I got it all.” Coleman says he has a problem shopping for expensive clothes; “Sometimes I [have] to get myself together and put myself in confinement.”

But how did Ron ‘Chin’ Coleman receive his nickname? Coleman said that he earned it, not only because of his “beautiful” chin, but also as a kid playing basketball in Chicago, which meant he had a sort of ‘street cred’ when hooping around town and when he got into coaching, he tried to drop the name but Tim Miles made it stick during his tenure at Colorado State from 2011-12.

“It’s just one of those nicknames I couldn’t get rid of,” Coleman said. “I tried. … I thought it would be more professional if I got rid of my ‘street name’ but I couldn’t get rid of it.”

Despite the nickname and his frequent ability to be the best dressed coach in the room, Coleman is a special mind to have on the sideline and behind the scenes at Kentucky when it comes to overall basketball I.Q.

Throughout his tenure, he’s known success everywhere he’s coached. Let’s go through the timeline:

Before becoming a collegiate coach, Coleman spent time in the high school and AAU ranks, molding the Chicago-based Mac Irvin Fire AAU team into one of the premier squads in the country from 2005-11. 

He coached at Benjamin E. Mays Academy and Whitney Young High School in Chicago where at Mays he led the squad to a 35-0 record along with the District 299 City Championship in 2006. He was crowned Illinois state champion with Whitney Young in 2009 and led the team to four consecutive top-25 national rankings from 2007-11.

From there, he’d go on to Colorado State where he helped lead the Rams to their first 20-win season in the 21st century. From there he went to Bradley, UIC and finally landed at Illinois with fellow Kentucky assistant Orlando Antigua under Brad Underwood.

With the Illini, he played a crucial role developing one of the best point guards in the nation in Ayo Dusunmu where he was named USA Today National Player of the Year, Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year and NCAA First Team All-American honors last season while averaging 20.1 points and 5.3 assists per game to lead Illinois to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Coleman almost didn’t land in Lexington, however, as he says, he interviewed for two unspecified head coaching positions before deciding the best place for him right now is Lexington under John Calipari. 

He said he chose Kentucky because it’s different, it’s the crème de la crème, the mecca of college basketball. “It’s Kentucky, there’s no other place like Kentucky, … it’s a blue-chip brand, you have the Yankees, the Cowboys and Kentucky.”

“At some point, I want to be a head coach,” he said. “… During this process, I had a lot of major colleges try to get me to come and coach at their schools while I had [the Kentucky] opportunity and I think I made the right decision.”