Kansas Basketball Player Preview: Dwight Coleby

Feb 14, 2015; Lawrence, KS, USA; An exterior view of Allen Fieldhouse before the game between the Baylor Bears and Kansas Jayhawks. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 14, 2015; Lawrence, KS, USA; An exterior view of Allen Fieldhouse before the game between the Baylor Bears and Kansas Jayhawks. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports /

One of the biggest mysteries for the Kansas basketball program this season is junior transfer Dwight Coleby. After missing his redshirt season with a torn ACL, he’s expected to be a contributor this season. What should KU fans expect from the big man?

Dwight Coleby, a transfer from Ole Miss, came to Kansas without a lot of fanfare. He was not highly recruited, and was a three-star forward ranked 176th in the country per the 247 Composite. His first two seasons in Oxford were also unremarkable. His freshman year, Coleby scored 2.4 points and pulled down 1.9 rebounds on just over 10 minutes per game. He was much improved his sophomore year, increasing his scoring output to 5.4 and his rebounding average to 4.9 per game. He also received increased playing time, to 16.5 minutes per game.

After announcing his intentions to transfer to KU, speculation at the time was that Coleby would be a very solid three to play two year program and depth big man, capable of playing in a pinch and providing energy off the bench, a role formerly occupied by Jamari Traylor. This was especially true given Kansas’s roster breakdown. After last season, where Coleby redshirted, the Jayhawks lost Perry Ellis, Hunter Mickelson, and Jamari Traylor to graduation, as well as Cheick Diallo to the NBA. To compound matters, the Jayhawks missed on several top big man targets in the class of 2016, including Jarrett Allen, Marques Bolden, and Thon Maker.

More from Kansas Jayhawks Basketball

What kind of player can Coleby be?

Coleby’s biggest issue so far has been recovering from an ACL tear he suffered last fall, which cost him all of last season. At this point, Coleby looks physically healthy, enough to play 11 minutes out of 20 at Late Night in the Phog. Coleby didn’t score, but did pull down four rebounds. The issue with Coleby seems to be confidence, especially on the  Head coach Bill Self said as much this summer to the Lawrence Journal-World, “The one thing that’s been hard on him has been confidence,” Self said. “He didn’t have the confidence this summer to let it go, so that’s why we kind of held him back. But it’s been enough time and the doctors say he’s in good shape physically, so he’s gotta let it go.” I couldn’t agree more. At Ole Miss, Coleby was a pretty explosive athlete and had a high motor, exactly what Kansas needs in a big man off the bench.

What else is Kansas getting in Coleby? If nothing else, Coleby can be a big body at 6’9” and 240 pounds, who is a good rebounder and can defend. In Self’s system, Coleby will also be able to play the four and five positions if both Landen Lucas and Udoka Azubuike are in foul trouble. He has a soft touch out to mid-range, but struggles to put the ball on the floor. He is an excellent free throw shooter for his size, shooting nearly 80% from the stripe his last season for the Rebels. This summer, Self compared the Bahamian to former Jayhawk Darnell Jackson. If Coleby comes close to matching Jackson’s production, Kansas fans should be thrilled.

I have modest expectations for Coleby. I expect him to be solid and unspectacular for the Jayhawks. Frankly, his sophomore stat line from Ole Miss is a good baseline. I think Coleby would be most effective playing 10-15 minutes per game, and not trying to do too much other than defend and rebound. He does need to cut down on his turnovers and fouls, as he averaged .7 turnovers and 2.2 fouls per game at Ole Miss. If he can provide a more polished game than he showed then and regain confidence in his knee, Kansas may have found exactly the presence they need for another run to the Final Four.