Saint Mary’s boosts its soon-to-be depleted backcourt by landing Joe Coleman

If Saint Mary's is going to stay relevant in the WCC title picture beyond next season, then the Gaels' latest addition may have to shoulder a lot of responsibility.

Ex-Minnesota guard Joe Coleman will transfer to Saint Mary's and have two more years of eligibility after sitting out next season, reported Monday. Coleman, who also received interest from Creighton, Gonzaga, Florida and Oregon, averaged 8.7 points per game for the Gophers last season before transferring after the firing of head coach Tubby Smith.

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The addition of Coleman is critical for a Saint Mary's program that has relied on strong guard play in recent years but will soon be lacking its usual array of proven guards.

Star point guard Matthew Dellavedova graduated already. Standout guards Stephen Holt, Jorden Page and James Walker III will all be seniors next season. And the heir apparent to Dellavedova, top 100 recruit Cullen Neal, abruptly reneged on his letter of intent in April, opting instead to play for his father once New Mexico promoted him to head coach after Steve Alford's departure.

Well aware that his program would be lacking proven guards in a year, Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett has been active on the transfer market this season in search of a player who can provide the same impact Neal might have. The Gaels swung and missed on UNC Asheville transfer Keith Hornsby and Marshall transfer Deandre Kane last month, but they landed a potentially key player in Coleman.

Coleman told that his reason for choosing Saint Mary's was because there was plenty of playing time available and Bennett has a history of developing quality guards. The Gaels will need Coleman to follow in the footsteps of Dellavedova, Micky McConnell and Patrick Mills if they're going to continue to contend for the NCAA tournament year after year.

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