Dwight Coleby says his lasting memory from his two years at the University of Kansas will be walking down Campanile Hill in cap and gown last Sunday, armed with a degree in Communications Studies.
“I loved it there. I graduated from there,” said Coleby in a phone interview with The Star. Coleby is a 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward who had transferred to Kansas from Mississippi.
“That’s something that can never be taken away from me,” added Coleby about graduating.
He announced plans on Monday to leave Kansas for a yet-to-be-determined school where he’ll be immediately eligible to play in games as a graduate transfer.
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“Being able to attend KU was a privilege. Not many people can say they did that,” Coleby said, noting Lawrence “will always be my home away from home.”
Coleby was speaking from Louisiana where he’s staying with friends as he tries to finalize his next move. He said he’s considering Western Kentucky, a school he visited earlier this week, Louisiana Monroe, Arkansas-Little Rock and Stephen F. Austin.
Creighton, Georgia Tech, Illinois and Seton Hall also have shown interest, Coleby’s longtime coach, Darrell Sears, told the Bowling Green (Ky.) Daily News on Thursday.
“Thinking of the whole process and going through it again … it’s been tough,” Coleby, who is from Nassau, Bahamas, told The Star.
Becoming a recruitable athlete for the third time is something Coleby and Kansas coach Bill Self agreed was best for him during a postseason one-on-one meeting. Coleby’s projected minutes and on-court contributions at KU next season were likely not enough to propel him to an NBA career or more likely, a career overseas. KU has big men in Udoka Azubuike, Billy Preston, Mitch Lightfoot and graduate transfer Jack Whitman.
“It’s tough to leave but something that had to be done,” Coleby said. “He (Self) said he didn’t want me to leave, but he agreed it was probably best for my future. If I could put up the numbers it probably would be the best thing I could do.”
Coleby averaged 1.7 points and 1.8 rebounds per game in limited duty this season, logging just 5.6 minutes per game across 24 games for the Jayhawks (31-5).
Coleby’s progress at Kansas was slowed by problems with his left knee.
He tore the ACL in his left knee in September of 2015 and could not practice at all during the 2015-16 NCAA mandated redshirt campaign.
Coleby was slow to recover from surgery. Self said many times through the course of the 2016-17 season that Coleby was still not yet 100 percent.
“It was pretty difficult,” Coleby said. “I was rehabbing, just kept working. You feel you have rehab completed and there would be a setback,” Coleby said. “I just had to keep working. It took forever. Every day was a battle trying to stay positive.”
As to why it took so long to recover, Coleby said: “Everybody’s body is different. No telling how somebody’s body will be. It’s fine right now.”
Coleby appeared to be coming into his own late in the season.
He had two points and a rebound while playing 13 minutes in an 98-66 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 win over Purdue. He had three points and four rebounds while playing nine pivotal minutes in a 90-70 second-round victory over Michigan State.
After the Michigan State game, KU senior big man Landen Lucas thanked Coleby for “saving my career.” The Jayhawks mobbed the big man, celebrating with him in the locker room.
“It was a great moment. I felt so happy after that,” Coleby said. “It’s a feeling you can’t really explain, people being so proud of you. It’s a great feeling. I can’t explain it.”
Coleby scored 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting in a 77-67 win over Texas on Feb. 25 in Austin, Texas. Also he had a season-high six boards in a 73-68 win over Baylor on Feb. 1 at Allen Fieldhouse.
“It was fun just being around my teammates, playing with them every day, having an unbelievable fan base and coaching staff that helped me grow as a person,” Coleby said.
He believes his next school will be getting a better player than the one that arrived at KU in the summer of 2015.
“Just working on different moves, I got better I think,” Coleby said. “Watching everybody, the great leadership skills they have helped me as well.”
He’ll try to use that all at his final collegiate stop. Coleby said he did not know when he would make his second campus visit or which school that would be. He did not commit to Western Kentucky on his visit to the Bowling Green school.
“Of course I’ll try to demand the ball (inside), but it’s not all about scoring,” Coleby said. “It’s about being a team player. I’m not selfish like that. If I play the game right, I’ll be fine,” he said.
Calling his current emotions, “bittersweet,” Coleby concluded by saying, “the two years I had at KU were special. It was just a great experience.”