Coleman-Lands brings different skill set

John Groce has always had offenses that are led by strong guards, and now he has a bit of a different look with Jalen Coleman-Lands.

There is no doubt that Jalen Coleman-Lands is more of a scoring guard than a point guard. Also there is no question that he would like to move into more of a combo guard role in college. Now that he is committed to Illinois, the question is how will he fit in with John Groce’s offense.

One of the staples that led to Groce getting the job at Illinois was having dominant point guard play while at Ohio. D.J. Cooper finished as one of the statistically best players in school history, and that was on the heels of a tremendous run with Armon Bassett running the point. Those two helped the Bobcats to two NCAA Tournament runs, and propelled Groce to landing at Illinois.

Since getting to Illinois, Groce has been looking for the type of point guard that really fits his system and can be like Bassett and Cooper. Incumbent Tracy Abrams has been solid, and after recovering from a knee injury will be back in 2015-16 as a fifth year senior, and Jaylon Tate proved to be solid as a freshman, but Coleman-Lands is a different level of talent, and will look to help out some with ball handling duties.

While Coleman-Lands brings a top 40 pedigree, and a next level jump shot. He has also improved with his ball skills dramatically over the past year. In fact he says he is now definitely going to be playing the role of combo guard at Illinois.

“I’m going to play like a combo,” said Coleman-Lands. “They feel, and I feel, that my ability to read screens and come off of screens is definitely a strength. I’m definitely going to work on my point guard skills and continue to being a combo.”

Now the question becomes how does he fit in to Groce’s ball screen motion type of offense. Coleman-Lands is not going to be a kid like Cooper or Bassett who comes off of a ball screen, attacks in the lane, and kicks out to an open shooter, that just isn’t his game.

Instead the offense, when Coleman-Lands has the ball, is going to have to be tweaked some. There are three ways to attack using a ball screen, and Coleman is very good at two of them. He sees the floor well coming off of screens, and can make passes that way, and then also he is excellent coming off the screen in rhythm and shooting the ball.

With that Groce is going to have a little something different within his offense, and will use Coleman-Lands a little like he did Brandon Paul, when Paul was a senior playing for Groce. Neither Coleman-Lands nor Paul were classified as true point guards, but both were effective using high screen situations, and both handled the ball a lot.

So while Groce didn’t land the true point guard he has coveted the past few years, he does have someone capable of filling that role in stretches, and brings a bit of a different element for the Illinois coaching staff to work with.

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