At only 5 years old, Marvin Coleman was handed a basketball and it was love at first sight. Almost 17 years later, Coleman is now a Runnin’ Rebel.
“It feels great just because growing up, everybody wants to play for their hometown school no matter where you’re at,” Coleman said. “Being able to play in front of my friends and family—that’s huge. Every game, I can look back and see my little brothers, my family and my friends. That’s definitely huge.”
Being a Las Vegas native, Coleman grew up watching UNLV play at the Thomas & Mack including his middle school years when Anthony Marshall and Mike Moser were on the team.
As a 2018 graduate of Foothill High School, he lettered all four years as a point guard for the Falcons. He earned Most Valuable Player three times and earned Academic All-State honors twice.
His senior season in high school, Coleman averaged 16.9 points and 5.8 assists per game. Kevin Soares coached the Falcons and together, they won the league championship that year. Coleman also participated in track and field as a sprinter and jumper.
Coming in as a freshman at UNLV, Coleman decided to walk onto the Runnin’ Rebels in hopes of earning himself a starting position on the team.
“It just came down to wanting to stay close to home because of my family and the relationship that I have with the coach and staff is pretty good,” Coleman said. “We had several freshmen and I was close with most of them, so when it just came down to it, I wanted to stay home and play for my hometown school, so it just seemed easy.”
In Coleman’s first season with the team, he earned the Mountain West (MW) Scholar-Athlete Award with a grade point average of 3.5 or better. He appeared in 11 games, averaging 4.2 minus per contest.
Coleman averaged 1.5 points and 0.3 rebounds per game, making 50 percent of his shots and scoring four points on three occasions.
Entering his sophomore year, Coleman was rewarded with a scholarship to play on the team.
“It was a blessing, it was like a dream come true, just for all my hard work to pay off… That’s what you strive for, you know, for my college to be paid for and my family not to worry about it, so it was truly a dream come true.”
All of his hard work continued to pay off on and off the court. On Jan. 20, Coleman earned the MW Player of the Week honor, along with being named Academic All-MW and earning the Scholar-Athlete Award once again for the season.
Coleman appeared in 28 games, making 20 starts and averaging 6.9 points per game (ppg) and 4.8 rebounds per game (rpg). He shot 80.7 percent from the free-throw line (46 of 57) while leading the team in steals (37), averaging 1.3 per game (seventh in the MW) and 2.3 assists per game.
Coleman recorded UNLV’s first triple-double in more than 20 years with 11 points, a career-high 12 rebounds and career-high 11 assists versus New Mexico. It marked the fifth triple-double in MW history and the first one since 2016.
“It feels great, that’s something not a lot of people in college basketball do,” Coleman expressed. “I mean it was just like, wow, I really did that. Looking up at the megatron and seeing my name and number—I really did it, but it definitely gives me more motivation to try and do it again. Obviously, you know, that’s something that’s very hard, but it gives me motivation to do it again.”
During his sophomore season, he made at least one 3-pointer in 15 games and more than one on six occasions. In UNLV’s one-point win over Fresno State, Coleman hit the game-winning shot with 0.8 seconds left on the clock.
Heading into his junior year, Coleman’s career took a 360 as the COVID-19 pandemic struck and college sports took a hit. The Runnin’ Rebels still received a season, playing to the best of their abilities, but with an empty Thomas & Mack and testing three times a week, it wasn’t the same for the team.
“Being in Thomas & Mack with fans, when they’re screaming our chants and stuff like that, there’s nothing like it,” Coleman said. “So to be able to switch into no fans and a crowd that’s an audio recording, it was a weird adjustment.”
“Our first game we obviously lost to Montana State, and I feel the lack of Vegas support in the stands had a lot to do with our mentality going into the game. It was a weird feeling to play a game like that in an empty arena and to hear the echoes of every play. It was a weird atmosphere.”
With the shortened season, Coleman played in six games before coming off the court with an injury. In those games, he averaged 2.5 rebounds with 40 total points for the season.
Once again, Coleman returns to the court to play basketball for the Runnin’ Rebels with a more packed Thomas & Mack filled with Vegas supporters and fans.
“It’s electrifying. Ultimately, it comes down to everyone who loves Runnin’ Rebels Basketball, so if we can get it to where it was back in the day—90’s, early 2000’s—you know, that’s our goal. We want the fans to come out and support UNLV because they help us win.”
The 2021-22 season for UNLV begins on Nov. 10 with a 7 p.m. matchup against Gardener-Webb at the Thomas & Mack where you can watch Coleman play in person. Tickets are available for purchase at unlvtickets.evenue.net