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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Men's Basketball

Former UH guard finds success abroad

In the 2009-2010 season, Aubrey Coleman was the face of the team, dazzling defenses with his NCAA-leading average of 25.6 points per game.

Last season Aubrey Coleman’s stage was Hofheinz Pavilion. Now he is more than 6,000 miles away competing in Turkey. | Daily Cougar File Photo

He helped lead UH to its first berth in the NCAA tournament since 1993, after putting the team on his back in an unprecedented four-game win streak to capture the Conference USA Championship.

Following the season, he played for the New Orleans Hornets summer league team and averaged 11.4 points per game.

In late July, it was announced that Coleman would take his game to Turkey, signing a one-year contract with Aliaga Petkim of the Turkish Basketball League. Aliaga is located in Izmir, the third most populous city in Turkey.

In Aliaga’s first two games this season, Coleman has scored 13 and eight points respectively. The team is 1-1.

Coleman said he has been treated like royalty as an American playing basketball in Turkey.

“It’s been cool,” he said. “They call me King Coleman over here.”

There have been adjustments Coleman has had to make, however. While he is able to communicate with his teammates and coaches, he said he is attempting to pick up the Turkish language.

“I’m trying,” he said. “I’m learning a little bit.”

Aliaga features two other Americans along with Coleman.

Jerome Randle, who last played at the University of California, was the 2010 Pac-10 player of the year.

The other is Brandon Hunter, who played for Ohio University in college. Hunter played two seasons in the NBA with the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic between 2003-2005. Since then, he has bounced around several Greek and Israeli teams.

Basketball in Europe differs from the American game. It is more spread out and favors jump shots. Coleman said defenders can’t keep up with him, as he’s been able to use his speed to blow past defenders.

“I’m faster than everyone over here,” he said.

But soon there will be stiffer competition joining Coleman in the TBL.

The Associated Press reported this week that 11-time NBA all star and former MVP Allen Iverson will sign a two-year $4 million contract to play with Besiktas Cola Turka of Istanbul. Iverson was recruited to play for several teams from China, but will instead go to Europe.

Now 35, Iverson was arguably the most dominant player in the NBA after Michael Jordan’s retirement. After 14 seasons in the NBA, no teams showed interest in signing the player who was nicknamed “The Answer.”

He also finds himself going overseas to continue his playing career.

Coleman said the competition is welcome, and that playing against an all-time NBA great will be a measure of where his abilities stand.

“It’s a good thing,” he said. “Now I can really see where my game is.”

Aliaga is set to play Besiktas on Oct. 31, but it is unknown if Iverson will be on the roster yet.

Coleman was raised in Missouri City, and attended Marshall High School and Gulf Shores Academy.

He said he is treating his time spent overseas like a professional, knowing that he is there to perform and hopefully parley his overseas experience to a shot at the NBA.

“I’m not homesick,” he said. “I’m not missing anything at home. I know I have a job to do here. Home will always be there.”

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