That’s exactly what transpired to some extent at last week’s Jordan Brand Classic practices, where Jalen Coleman-Lands never really got going to show what he can do.
But there’s no reason for concern. A slender 6-4 guard stands to benefit from college screening and halfcourt sets, especially when that player may be the best pure shooter in the senior class. We’ve observed on multiple occasions what happens when Coleman-Lands gets a clean look in rhythm. He’s a top-50 national prospect for a reason, and Illinois was ecstatic to land him last fall.
All that said, in New York he did demonstrate a higher comfort level with the ball in his hands than he has in the past. He isn’t ready to take the reins at a Big Ten program, but his progress on the ball has become evident.
|Coleman-Lands possesses deep and accurate shooting range|
When asked whether his reputation as a shooter and only a shooter bothered him, he noted that he’s striving toward becoming more complete.
”That was one of things I worked on this year, going to the Kyrie camp, point guard camps, running the one and the two,” Coleman-Lands said. “It’s an area I feel like I’ve been working on every day.”
Illinois struggled big-time on offense this past season, and Coleman-Lands’ talents will help provide a boost for what’s been missing. He doesn’t project as a point guard for college, but as long as he’s capable as a playmaker, he views his trajectory as entirely sound for the Illini and beyond.
”There are a lot of premier guards in the NBA who played the two and the one in college, like Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, premier guys,” he said. “It doesn’t faze me.
”With me being able to shoot and make plays and be a playmaker, I definitely feel like that’s an area where it forces the defense to play on me and I can create for others.”
Sizing up his freshman season, Coleman-Lands will need to gain strength for both offense and defensive purposes. He plans to enroll at Illinois on June 11 and also will continue to refine his skill level and mental acuity throughout the summer months.
”I’ll continue to work on my ballhandling, IQ, being able to bring the ball up and see the floor and get a few plays ahead,” he said.
At No. 40 in the class, Coleman-Lands is the highest-ranked signee headed to Champaign for next season and is one member of a top-15 national haul.