Photo - UK Athletics
The Kentucky men’s basketball coaching staff has undergone an offseason transformation with a familiar face in Orlando Antigua returning to the UK bench and another top assistant from Illinois in Ronald “Chin” Coleman coming onboard.
Antigua, a key assistant in the first five seasons of the John Calipari era at Kentucky, has rejoined the program as associate coach. Coleman is also headed to Lexington via Illinois after four seasons with the Illini and will be an assistant coach.
Contracts will be finalized pending university completion of pre-employment screenings.
Antigua and Coleman will occupy two of the three on-court assistant coaching positions on the 2021-22 staff. Jai Lucas will remain in the other assistant coaching position and Bruiser Flint will be elevated to associate to the head coach. Both Lucas and Flint are entering their second seasons at Kentucky.
“I am really excited to have Orlando back,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “I think everyone knows what we were able to do with Orlando as a part of our staff going to the Sweet Sixteen in our final season at Memphis and making three Final Fours with a national title at Kentucky in his five seasons. But aside from our team success, he brings an uplifting spirit and a work ethic that helps create relationships that are so needed in college basketball within your own team and on the recruiting trail. All of that starts within our staff, and I am excited that he wanted to be back here with us to get our program back to where we know it needs to be.”
“Ron ‘Chin’ Coleman is in the same mold as Orlando,” Calipari said. “You are talking about another upbeat, positive coach who is going to bring the spirit that has always been a part of our culture. He has earned his stripes through hard work and building relationships around the country. Chin is a grinder, someone who relishes that time in the gym with the kids to help add value to your current players, yet he never takes his eyes off the lifeline of our program, which is recruiting.
“I cannot wait to get both of these guys in the office and on the court with Jai (Lucas) and Bruiser (Flint) and get to work.”
Antigua returns to Lexington for his second stint with the Wildcats after seven seasons away, first as a head coach with South Florida and then as an assistant with Illinois.
“I want to thank Josh Whitman, Coach (Brad) Underwood and everyone at Illinois for an incredible four years in Champaign,” Antigua said. “We created some unforgettable memories and took the program to new heights that we can all be proud of. I will never forget my time at Illinois and I want to thank everyone who welcomed my family and I to a wonderful place. With that said, I am excited to be headed back to Lexington. This game has blessed me with so many amazing opportunities, but the chance to work at Kentucky again, a program where we built a lot of special memories, is one I am grateful for. Thank you to Mitch Barnhart and Coach Cal, one of my mentors, for the opportunity. I am looking forward to getting my feet on the ground in Lexington and getting this going again. As we have always done it, this will be about players first, and I can’t wait to work with our young men who represent the University of Kentucky.”
Coleman has 10 seasons of college coaching experience with time spent at Illinois, UIC, Bradley, Nebraska and Colorado State.
“We must accept the end of something in order to begin something new, special and different,” Coleman said.” To that end, I want to thank everyone at Illinois for the opportunity I was afforded the last four years. It was truly an honor, and I am proud of the success we achieved together. It takes courage to grow and become who you really are, and having the opportunity to coach at the University of Kentucky, work for John Calipari and be a member of Big Blue Nation is a dream come true. This is a different kind of place, one that coaches and players hope to one day be a part of. I am blessed to live that dream.”
The two openings were created last month when former associate to the head coach Tony Barbee became the head coach at Central Michigan and former assistant coach Joel Justus accepted an offer to serve as the lead assistant with Arizona State.
Antigua brings to Kentucky nearly 20 years of college coaching experience. In Antigua, Kentucky will get a proven recruiter, a tireless on-court developer, and a relationship-driven coach both on and off the court.
During Antigua’s first stint at Kentucky, featuring the 2009-10 season through the 2013-14 national runner-up run, UK compiled a 152-37 record (80.4%) with a national championship, three Final Four appearances, and two Southeastern Conference regular-season titles and two SEC Tournament crowns.
Known for his eye on the recruiting trail, Antigua helped UK pull in five straight top-ranked recruiting classes (Recruiting Services Consensus Index). In his initial season with the Wildcats, Antigua saw three of his signees drafted in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft. He was a central figure in the 2010 and 2011 No. 1 classes, which led UK to its eighth national title in 2012 and its first since 1998.
As a result, Antigua was named one of Yahoo! Sports’ top 10 college basketball recruiters. In May of 2012, he was listed by ESPN.com as the top assistant coach in the country under the age of 40. ESPN included Antigua in the top five of the most feared assistant coaches on the recruiting trail in 2013.
UK enjoyed a program resurgence under Antigua. Outside of recruiting, Antigua played important roles in the development of some of the Wildcats’ staples of the first half of the dominant Calipari era.
In the final season at Kentucky, Antigua took over as the head coach of the Dominican National Team after serving the previous two seasons under Calipari as an assistant. After helping Calipari and the program build a foundation in the first two years, Antigua and the Dominicans secured a spot in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup for the second time in the country’s history and the first time since 1978.
Antigua earned a head coaching opportunity with South Florida after the 2013-14 season with Kentucky and spent two and a half seasons in Tampa, Florida.
Following the USF tenure, Antigua joined Illinois as an assistant coach, where he has spent the last four seasons. With Antigua playing a leading role with the Illini’s frontcourt players and on the recruiting trail, Illinois posted back-to-back 20-win seasons over the last two years and was a No. 1 seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
Antigua was instrumental in the development of Kofi Cockburn, an NCAA Consensus All-America Second Team selection and All-Big Ten First Team member in 2021. Cockburn arrived at Illinois as a talented but unproven big man out of Jamaica and Antigua helped mold him into one of the nation’s most dominant post players over the last two seasons. Cockburn was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2020 and posted 28 double-doubles over the last two years, fourth most in the country.
Other Antigua success stories include Giorgi Bezhanishvili, who, in 2019 arrived as an under-the-radar recruit but went on to lead the team in rebounding and ranked among the national leaders in field-goal percentage. He broke the Illini school single-game scoring record by a freshman. In 2018, under Antigua’s tutelage, Leron Black earned honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades after leading Illinois in both scoring and rebounding.
Antigua originally joined Calipari for the 2008-09 season at Memphis, helping the Tigers to a 33-4 record, a spot in the 2009 NCAA Sweet Sixteen, and regular-season and tournament conference crowns in Conference USA.
Prior to his brief stay in Memphis and beginning with the 2003-04 season, Antigua worked at his alma mater, Pittsburgh. During his five years at Pitt – the first three as a director of basketball operations and the second two as an assistant – he helped lead the Panthers to an overall record of 132-40 (76.7%) and a Big East mark of 55-27 (67.0% winning percentage). Pittsburgh recorded five straight 20-win campaigns and won 10 or more league games in five consecutive years.
The Panthers had just as much success in the postseason during Antigua’s years. Pitt earned NCAA Tournament bids during all five of Antigua’s years and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in 2004 and 2007.
Antigua’s first stint with Pittsburgh was his collegiate playing days in the early 19902. A four-year letterwinner and two-time team captain, Antigua ranked in the top 15 on the Panthers’ all-time 3-pointers made, blocked shots and career 3-point percentage at the end of his career.
A 1992 Big East Conference All-Rookie Team pick, Antigua helped lead the Panthers to an 18-16 record and a National Invitation Tournament berth as a freshman. The following year, Antigua’s Panthers went 17-11 and earned an NCAA Tournament bid. In 1994, he was named the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Most Courageous Athlete, an honor presented annually to the college basketball player who displays courage on and off the court. Antigua graduated from Pittsburgh with a degree in social sciences in December 1995.
After graduation, Antigua was selected to play for the world-renowned Harlem Globetrotters, becoming the first player of Latin American descent to play for the squad. Nicknamed “Hurricane” for his dazzling moves, Antigua played with the Globetrotters for seven years until 2002.
Antigua also played in the Puerto Rico Superior Basketball League for eight years, and in both 1994-95 and 1997-98, he was a member of the Dominican Republic national team. Because of his dedication to the community, Antigua was named one of the nation’s top 100 most influential Hispanic Americans by Hispanic Business magazine.
Fluent in Spanish, Antigua and his wife, Dana, have a daughter, Olivia, and a son, Orlando Anthony.
Coleman spent the last four seasons with Illinois. With a relationship-driven focus that has forged success on the court with his players and on the recruiting trail, he has earned a reputation as one of the top assistant coaches in the country.
Coleman was instrumental in the development of Ayo Dosunmu, one of the country’s best point guards over the last three seasons. Under Coleman’s guidance, Dosunmu raked in dozens of national and conference honors, including USA Today National Player of the Year, Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year and NCAA Consensus All-America First Team honors. He averaged 20.1 points and 5.3 assists per game to lead Illinois to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
With Coleman on the bench, Illinois posted back-to-back 20-win seasons the last two years for the first time since the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons and finished second in the Big Ten in 2021. With Coleman serving as a defensive coordinator in 2020-21, the Illini finished seventh in the country in the Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive rankings and hovered around the top spot for much of the season.
Prior to Illinois, Coleman served two years as an assistant coach under then-head coach Steve McClain at UIC. The Flames underwent a remarkable turnaround in Coleman’s two seasons on staff, winning 17 games in 2016-17, a 12-win increase over the previous season.
At UIC, Coleman helped recruit and develop Dikembe Dixson, who was named the 2016 Horizon League Freshman of the Year and earned a spot on the All-Horizon League Team after setting the league’s scoring record by a freshman. During his first season with the Flames, Coleman was key in the development of sophomore Tai Odiase, one of the top rim protectors in the country. Odiase led all NCAA Division I players with 3.23 blocks per game during the regular season and was named to the Horizon League All-Defensive Team.
Coleman was at Bradley for three seasons before UIC and was elevated to assistant head coach in his final season in 2014-15. In his first year with the Braves, Coleman helped BU to its first winning record in three seasons.
Prior to his time at Bradley, he was an assistant coach at Colorado State under then-head coach Tim Miles. The following season, Miles brought Coleman with him to Nebraska as the Director of Player Development.
In his lone season at Colorado State, Coleman helped pilot the 2011-12 Rams to their first 20-win campaign in 14 years and their first NCAA Tournament berth since the 2003 season. CSU featured three All-Mountain West players that season, including first-team pick Wes Elkmeier.
Before entering the college ranks, Coleman served as head coach of the Chicago-based Mac Irvin Fire AAU squad from 2005 to 2011. Coleman laid the foundation for Mac Irvin Fire into becoming one of the premier AAU teams in the country.
Coleman also coached Illinois prep hoops for Benjamin E. Mays Academy and Whitney Young High School in Chicago. In 2006, he directed Mays to a perfect 35-0 record and a District 299 City Championship. He then moved back home to lead Whitney Young as the associate head coach, and from 2007 to 2011, Whitney Young finished in the top 25 nationally for four consecutive seasons, including an Illinois High School Association title in 2009.
The Chicago native played high school ball at Chicago’s South Shore Career Academy before competing collegiately for Weber State and Lamar. Coleman spent his first season at Weber State and appeared in 25 games as a true freshman. During his three seasons at Lamar, Coleman led the Cardinals in scoring all three seasons and earned three consecutive All-Sun Belt First Team honors. His 1,316 points was the 10th-best mark in Lamar school history at the conclusion of his career.
Coleman played seven seasons of professional basketball, including stints with the Houston Rockets and the Grand Rapid Hoops in the Continental Basketball Association, a professional basketball minor league. He also competed overseas in Finland and in Latvia’s top league before returning to the United States to begin his coaching career.
Coleman earned a bachelor’s degree in applied arts and science from Lamar in 1997.
He and his wife, Angela, have a daughter, Rahni.
— Courtesy UK Athletics