If Amir Coffey’s last name sounds familiar, it’s because a couple of family members have given his surname some serious weight in Big Ten circles.
Program alert: “The Journey” profiles the Coffey family at 9:30 p.m. ET on tonight’s season premiere.
Amir is following in his father Richard’s footsteps at Minnesota, who was a gritty Gophers forward from 1986-1990 before playing a season with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Nicknamed “The Paratrooper” from his pre-Gopher service in the Army, Richard was a popular basketball figure in the Twin Cities and overseas during a seven-year pro career. He eventually returned to the Twin Cities, started a family and rigorously trained his kids for basketball success.
As a freshman, Amir has been a big factor in Minnesota’s turnaround this season. The Gophers are 14-2 entering Sunday night’s game against Ohio State and have gotten 12.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game from Amir, who has shown versatility playing within his rangy 6-foot-8 frame. He’s already proving that his game won’t shrink in his father’s shadow.
However, he’s got a lot of work to do to catch up with his sister Nia’s decorated list of accomplishments. Nia came to Northwestern as a McDonald’s All-American and won a Gold Medal with Team USA at the FIBA U19 World Championships in 2013. As a four-year starter with the Wildcats, Nia was the first player in program history to earn All-B1G postseason honors in her first three years. She surpassed 2,000 career points Saturday against Maryland.
Amir and Nia’s collegiate paths crossed for the first time Thursday when Amir’s Gophers played at Northwestern. It was a cool crossroads for the siblings who sacrificed countless hours of free time together in gyms with their father throughout their childhood.
Amir scored a team-high 17 points in a Minnesota win, with two of them coming on a dunk that Nia let all of Welsh-Ryan Arena hear about.
Thanks to Richard and Nia, few families have enjoyed more Big Ten success than the Coffeys. If Amir’s early contributions are any indication, he’ll have no problem carrying on the Coffey legacy.