James Monroe at Chancellor boys basketball

The Chancellor bench reacts after Anthony Melvin's game winning shot in the final seconds of a Battlefield District game against James Monroe at Chancellor on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019.

Not long after Isaiah Coleman took the bull by the horns in his first high school game, scoring 14 points in Chancellor’s 76–71 season-opening loss to Charlottesville, he earned a charitable comparison from Chargers coach Craig Boothe.

“He’s a poor man’s Scottie Pippen,” Boothe said of Coleman, the nephew of former Louisa County star forward Justin Coleman.

A stretch? Yes and no. It’s probably easier to list the spots where the 6-foot-3 Coleman can’t yet contribute as a freshman. Center—that’s the whole list.

“Isaiah is a four-position player,” Boothe said. “He can play the 1, 2, 3 and 4 effectively. He can handle the ball as good as a point guard. He showed his range in our first game with two NBA threes. … He’s also a lanky, long rebounder.”

Coleman is a new addition to an otherwise well-acquainted nucleus. Over the past two offseasons, Chancellor’s core of players remained under their head coach’s guidance on the AAU circuit with Team Boothe, traveling to tournaments up and down the East Coast. Throw in fall league, and the Chargers have lost count of exactly how many games they’ve logged as a unit.

“We’re probably in the hundreds to be honest,” senior guard Anthony Melvin said. “When you see us play, you can see the natural feel and chemistry that we have. We know each other’s spots.”

That chemistry starts with Melvin. A second-team Battlefield District selection a season ago, Melvin has shifted his sole focus from scoring to facilitating as a senior. He dished out seven assists in the opener. Boothe sees the change as a win–win situation for Melvin, who plans to play college basketball next year.

“He leads, he sacrifices, those guys shine a little bit and he also is preparing for the next level,” Boothe said.

Melvin hasn’t encountered any issues mentoring Coleman, who averaged 11.2 points per game last season as an eighth grader playing varsity at Loudoun County Christian School in Ashburn.

“His maturity level is high,” Melvin said. “He takes accountability, he takes responsibility on and off the court. You see him and get to know him. It feels like he has an old soul for the game.”

Coleman vividly remembers putting up shots with his uncle, a similarly big-bodied, prized Louisville recruit who failed to qualify and later enjoyed a brief career at Marshall.

“I wouldn’t say we’re the same, but we’re close to it,” Coleman said of their skill sets.

He remembers sitting in the stands as Justin Coleman led the 2010 Kentucky Derby Festival Classic in scoring.

Now, his own career is off to the races.

“He has the potential—if he keeps his head on straight—to become a college basketball player at a major level,” Boothe said.

Joey LoMonaco: 540/368-5045

jlomonaco@freelancestar.com

@joeylomonaco

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