Chase Coleman adds different perspective to UVA coaching staff
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Sitting alongside Tony Bennett are three assistants, a few additional staff, including directors and a grad assistant, behind the bench and at the end Virginia has an extra coach in senior guard Chase Coleman.
"I just love what he brings and all the good teams have guys like that, that are just willing to give of themselves," Bennett said, "Yeah of course he'd want to play and everybody wants to play, but he's out there seeing, talking, helping guys."
Coleman adds a different perspective as not a coach on the court, but rather a coach down the bench.
"I'm not on the floor, even me being a player I'm still not on the floor," Coleman said, "But I might see things differently because my seat at the end of the bench is different from their seat at the front of the bench."
The son of a longtime coach, Coleman was drawn to the X's and O's of the game from an early age, knowing since he was a sophomore in high school coaching was his path to a future in the game. One of the reasons he ended up at UVA as a walk-on over taking an offer to play at Virginia State was to take a masters course in coaching the game.
"I feel like I'm learning from the best in the business that understands and has done it for so long, that's won in so many places, I think that'll just carry on how to win," Coleman said, who adds Bennett knew of his career goals before he ever stepped foot on Grounds.
"It's one things to compete, it's one thing to win, but to win and build that foundation of 'okay, this is the culture that I want to bring in, this is what it's going to take', I think I've learned that."
But it is one thing to dream, it is another to put the work in like Coleman. Constantly praised for his work in practice and behind the scenes preparing the team, Coleman also spends most nights with his ESPN+ account up watching basketball.
"Ballpark, so let's say a game is about an hour and a half, probably watching two or three games a day, something around there if you can add that up," Coleman said processing his nightly routine after homework.
The math comes out to around 20-plus hours a week of games, from future opponents to friends or other teams he admires. And despite rarely seeing the court, just more than 100 minutes over four seasons, fans will seldom find Coleman in his seat during games.
"For every team there's a leader, there's an energy guy, there's this person, that person and the third and I'd just seen that we didn't have that, so I brought it to myself that whatever it takes," Coleman said, "I've had my warnings with the refs of course, energy wise, getting off the floor and stuff like that."
Coleman can be heard constantly offering up insights to his veteran teammates like Kihei Clark and Armaan Franklin and has always had the ear of his coaches.
"He'll come and whisper in our ear 'Hey I think we should do this or look at this' and he's talking to the guys on the bench and he is one of the most selfless kids we've ever had," associate head coach Jason Williford said, "He's all about serving and you see it, he's cheering, he's rooting and he gets us ready, he goes at those guys every day in practice."
"He's an extension of us, quite honestly."
There is a process though, as Coleman goes to grad assistant Isaiah Wilkins or Director of Player Personnel Johnny Carpenter before moving his way up the coaching ladder to Bennett.
"They've given me the freedom to give my insight and pretty much if I have a suggestion they give an open ear," Coleman said, "And that's one thing from day one that I've noticed about this coaching staff is that they listen to each other and they really try to find the best solution no matter where it comes from."
Everyone starts with a plan at the beginning of college, for Coleman it was to play four years before becoming a grad assistant. But the COVID year has the senior guard weighing starting his professional career or playing another year whether at UVA or elsewhere.
Wherever Coleman ends up, it is easy for his teammates and coaches to see a future with Coleman on the sidelines.
"I value his opinion, I'll sometimes ask him during a timeout, 'Hey what do you see?" and I'll hear him saying things," Bennett said, "He talks to coaches, he's good, he's going to be a heck of a coach."