Coleman Edwards had been away from New Orleans for so long, it didn’t necessarily feel quite the same when he moved back over the summer.

But as is common for so many New Orleans natives, the UNO freshman guard made a trip over to his grandmother’s house for Sunday dinner one day, and it made everything feel just right.

“It took me a little while to get adjusted. I mean I haven’t lived here in 10 years,” Edwards said. “But being around my family just made everything feel like home again.

“It’s hard to get away from a city like New Orleans. When you’re from here, it never leaves you.”

Edwards grew up on the West Bank and attended Arden Cahill Academy. But he left as an 8-year-old in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina and moved to Sugar Land, Texas, about 30 minutes away from Houston, where he and his family made a home for the next 10 years.

Edwards often returned to New Orleans to visit family over the summer and for holidays, but he never looked at moving back to his hometown as a major priority.

“I spent a big part of my life in Sugar Land and made a lot of friends there,” Edwards said. “I loved coming back to visit family in New Orleans, but I never said to myself that I had to move back one day.”

As Edwards grew into his 6-foot-1, 170-pound frame and took basketball more seriously, he started getting more attention from colleges that wanted him to play at the next level.

Edwards averaged 17.3 points and 3.7 assists per game during his junior season at Fort Bend Clements High School, and one of those coaches who reached out to him regularly was UNO’s Mark Slessinger.

“At first I thought it was just a coincidence that the school from my hometown started recruiting me,” Edwards said. “But then they started coming after me really hard, and I started thinking that maybe it was destiny for me to go back. Maybe this is where I belong.”

While Slessinger has made a point of recruiting New Orleans natives during his time on the Lakefront, it was Edwards’ reputation as a ballhandler and leader on the court that made him a natural fit with the Privateers in the coach’s eyes.

Slessinger said he expects Edwards to come in and compete for minutes at point guard immediately and help a team that finished last in assists per game in the Southland Conference last year.

“I think he’s going to be a really good point guard and give (last year’s starting point guard) Nate Frye all that he can handle,” Slessinger said. “I told him he’s like a quarterback that has to go through his reads on each play, and now he’s starting to get to the point where he’s getting to that third read and he can anticipate things before they happen.”

Edwards added that the moment he’s been waiting for since signing with UNO is the first game at the Lakefront Arena when his entire family can come out and see him play.

“I asked his mom for a ballpark number of how many people they were bringing to the home opener, and it was crazy,” Slessinger joked.

With New Orleans across his chest and plenty of family members watching from the stands, Edwards may feel more at home in that game than he ever has before.