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Former Central basketball player Coleman dies at 19

Former Central Gwinnett basketball standout Jerry Coleman was found dead Monday morning by his family, apparently after passing away in his sleep, according to Black Knights boys basketball coach David Allen.

Allen said Coleman had a routine procedure to remove wisdom teeth last Friday and complained of some discomfort, but that everything seemed fine Sunday night when the 19-year-old went to bed. Coleman died sometime between then and Monday morning, when his mother found him unresponsive.

"Nobody really knows what happened," said Allen, who coached Coleman for four seasons at Central. "It's all kind of a shock right now."

Coleman was a student at Kennesaw State and Allen said he was thinking about joining the Owls' basketball team as a walk-on. He also worked a job with an area entertainment company.

As a high school basketball player, Coleman was known for his exceptional athletic ability and his impressive dunks. He was a key player on Central's 2010-11 team as a senior (averaging 10.3 points and 6 rebounds), but also contributed greatly as a junior for a Black Knights team that made the Class AAAAA semifinals at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. The 6-foot-2 wing had 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds in the semifinal game at the Arena.

Off the court, Allen called Coleman a great leader. Even after Coleman's graduation, the coach still called the teen regularly, asking him to mentor younger players in the Central program and to help get them on the right track.

"He was a super athletic kid who was very gifted with his ability," Allen said. "But more than that, they just don't make kids like Jerry Coleman. He was an excellent kid, the epitome of a student-athlete. If I had a boy, I'd want him to be like Jerry. I'm a better person for having known Jerry."

Twitter was busy Monday with "RIP Jerry Coleman" messages from shocked friends and former opponents of Coleman.

Allen, whose team plays Tuesday in the Jared Cook Classic at North Gwinnett, said that the team was discussing plans of how to honor the fallen standout.

No funeral arrangements had been announced as of Monday afternoon.