Greg Sparling

Former CWU men’s basketball coach Greg Sparling and his son Coleman (No. 23) were together at CWU during the 2018 season and will be reunited this coming season at Alaska-Fairbanks.

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Reunited, and it feels so good — just as Peaches & Herb sang in ’78.

This situation is different, but it surely gives a heartwarming feeling considering the separate paths Coleman Sparling and Greg Sparling took since Greg’s release from Central Washington University in 2018 after putting in 24 years as head coach.

The decision jarred the community, especially after CWU had recently qualified for the Great Northwest Conference tournament and showed a promising future that included the GNAC Freshman of the Year Khalil Shabazz and a young Coleman.

But that all changed. No longer did Greg coach his son at the collegiate level in their home town of Ellensburg, but forced them to take separate avenues.

Greg headed north to coach at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, staying put in the GNAC, and Coleman transferred to Southern Idaho for one season before signing with Division I University of Texas-Arlington for the 2019-20 campaign. But last May, Coleman, with one year of eligibility remaining, entered the transfer portal. He wanted to find a program that offered a one-year master’s program, knowing coaching is in the future.

And what better place to develop and learn while finishing out his final year than UAF.

“Unfinished business with Pops,” Coleman tweeted late Tuesday night with a graphic of him in an Alaska jersey with the No. 23. “Senior season back in the GNAC.”

Coleman had coveted a team that fits his style of play and embodies a family aspect, and that seems to be a guarantee at UAF.

“I’m not saying I want to play point guard again, but I want to play somewhere where I can be that point forward that I kind of did here at Central and also did at CSI,” Coleman said in May, who averaged 8.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game at CSI. “I want to have the ball in my hands, be able to distribute and make plays and just being me, honestly.

“But also go to a place that’s a family feel. I played for my dad and also my JUCO coach — coach (Jared) Phay and coach (Aaron) Anderson out there. They were like family to me, I still stay in touch with a lot of my JUCO teammates. That’s something that’s really important to me.”

UAF snuck in as the sixth seed in the GNAC tournament last season, finishing 12-18 overall and 10-10 in conference play. Alaska Fairbanks defeated Western Oregon in the first round, 91-88, before falling to Western Washington, 76-64, in the semifinal.

UAF had one of the top players in the country for Division II in guard Shadeed Shabazz, the brother of former CWU guard, Khalil. Shadeed was a unanimous first-team GNAC selection, GNAC Player of the Year, Co-Defensive Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year. He was also a D2CCA and NABC first-team All-West Region selection, along with a third-team All-America tab by the Division II Conference Commissioners Association. He finished the 2019-20 season ranking third in Division II scoring with 26.7 points per game and leader in both steals per game (3.83) and total steals (115).

He and Coleman will have one season to vie together along with the addition of graduate transfer Quin Barnard from the University of Washington, who also tweeted Tuesday night of his decision.

At UTA last season, Coleman played in 26 games with six starts. He averaged two points and 1.7 rebounds in 12.3 minutes per game. He scored a season-high six points versus Louisiana back in January.

UTA finished the season 14-18, 10-10 in the Sun Belt Conference.

Luke Olson:; on Twitter: @lukeolsonb


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