Cori Coleman had junior college on her radar. Or prep school.
The Murry Bergtraum senior guard didn’t think she had a shot to qualify to play Division I or II basketball until the middle of the season. When she found out there was a glimmer of hope, Coleman threw herself into academics. She worked harder in the classroom, spent time in the library before practice and took the SAT again as well as the ACT.
“I did more than what the teacher asked for, so they wouldn’t have an excuse to give me a bad grade,” Coleman said. “I always put effort in, but I put in way more effort. I gave 150 percent. I think my hard work paid off a lot.”
In early April, she found out she would be a qualifier. And, after the recruiting process began anew, Coleman committed to Cleveland State May 23, choosing the Vikings over Stony Brook, Iona and Canisius. East Carolina and Colorado State had also shown preliminary interest. Bergtraum Coach Ed Grezinsky says she has to continue taking care of business, but she’ll be signing with Cleveland State soon.
“I’m proud of her,” he said. “She works hard in the classroom. She works hard with basketball. It was a pleasure to deal with her.”
Coleman, who led Bergtraum to a 13th-straight PSAL city championship in March, visited Cleveland State, Stony Brook and Iona in recent weeks. She decided on Cleveland State before visiting Canisius, citing the school’s presence in a city area, her relationship with the coaching staff and players and that it had her prospective major: marketing. Coleman also hoped to leave New York.
“I realized that I wanted to get away and go somewhere new, like a new adventure, see things I’ve never seen,” she said. “New challenges. New chapter in my life.”
Grezinsky joked that she was the “anti-LeBron” after choosing the city LeBron James left for Miami. Coleman found out that the bitterness toward the former Cavaliers star runs deep.
“I was speaking about LeBron and the people out there really hate him,” she said. “I’m a LeBron fan. I had a LeBron shirt in my bag and thank God I didn’t wear it. I probably wouldn’t have made it back to New York if I did.”
Coleman, who was the new York Post’s All-Manhattan Player of the Year and a first team All-City selection, might also be the anti-LeBron in another way: She’s extremely adept at closing out games. The 5-foot-7 sharpshooter hit huge three-pointers in the fourth quarter in Bergtraum victories this season John F. Kennedy, Manhattan Center and H.D. Woodson (D.C.). The biggest might have been the buzzer-beater that sent a game against St. Peter’s into overtime, where the Lady Blazers eventually won. There was not a more clutch player in the city.
“Any time we needed a big shot, it seemed like she made it for us,” Grezinsky said.
Coleman also had a challenging season. The Springfield Gardens native played with severe asthma after an already-present condition worsened last spring. She also had to deal with the pressure of being Bergtraum’s lone returning starter. She handled both things with aplomb.
“It was harder, because before the season started people said it was my team, but at the end of the day it’s really Mr. G’s team,” Coleman said.
Coleman wasn’t a heralded player coming into high school and didn’t see significant minutes until her junior year, when she became a star. She worked hard and got better under Grezinsky and Coach Rock Rosa of the New Heights travel program, the same way she worked hard to achieve her dream of playing Division I basketball.
“I’m shocked still,” Coleman said. “I didn’t think I would make it this far at all.”
©2011 Community News Group
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