Overall National: #35
Position Rank: #8 Shooting Guard
State Rank: #2
At 6’4” Jalen Coleman-Lands brings good size with an athletic build to the table. He will need to continue to add strength to max out his ability in the Big 10, but has shown growth in this area over the last year so he should continue to get even stronger. The newest Illini’s biggest asset is his ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter. He is particularly effective using his pull up jump shot. Coleman-Lands likes to shoot from a variety of spots on the floor.
When pushing it in transition, he loves to get in rhythm and pull up from beyond the arc for a triple. He is also effective when using his pull up in the mid-range and knocking down shots from 15-18 feet. Overall his jumper has sound mechanics and form. While he is without a doubt one of the premier shooters in the nation, there are times where he can be a bit streaky. When his jump shot is falling though, he is literally lights out.
The La Lumiere star is not just a one dimensional player, however. Coleman-Lands is a plus ball handler in both the half court and in transition. He has a great feel for slicing through the lane and knows where defenders are and how to avoid them almost like a running back when in traffic. I’ve been impressed with how over the last couple years he has developed the ability to combine multiple moves to get to the hoop with ease. When in the lane he knows where the contact is going to be and gets to the charity stripe at a good clip. In transition, Coleman-Lands does a nice job of pushing the ball and having his head up to survey the defense while still looking to make a play.
Coleman-Lands is a solid passer for an off-guard. He usually makes quality decisions with the rock in his hands while playing off the ball. The question has been asked regarding whether he can play the point at the next level. He shared that duty with Texas commit Eric Davis on the East squad at Nike Global Challenge leading his team to the championship game. In my opinion Coleman, is best utilized in a role where he is primarily playing off the ball. That being said, he can slide over in a pinch and is more than capable of initiating the offense, but to maximize his value as a player he is best as a dynamic wing scorer/shooter.
He is a plus rebounder for a shooting guard that isn’t afraid to mix it up with the bigs and contributes on the glass. Defensively, he does a nice job of using his lateral quickness and length on the perimeter and usually picks up a couple steals a game. This is an area that the coaches at Illinois should be able to develop even further.
Most Memorable Game:
Over the years, I have seen some big games from Coleman-Lands. He really impressed as one of the youngest players at Nike Elite 100. Coleman-Lands went right at his opponent and wanted to prove he was worth the hype as a young prospect. The game that stands out the most in my memory was when both Ryan Easterling and I saw him in Minnesota during the final session of the EYBL regular season against Playground Elite in May. Coleman-Lands was literally as unstoppable. His jump shot was going in from anywhere and everywhere, both in set shots and in pull-ups coming off of ball screens. He was in that scorer’s zone. He led his team to the win with 32 points on 12-14 from the field. At one point the referee even turned around after his 8th or 9th make and said “that kid is incredible.”
What is the impact of Illinois landing this talent guard? Coleman-Lands' decision has both talent and perception implications.
First, it’s crazy to think that it has been nearly 30 years since Illinois has had a player from Indiana on the roster, but Coleman-Lands’ commitment means breaking through in the state of Indiana. Illinois fans have been waiting for this day ever since a certain shooting guard (affectionately known by many as “IDKWTI”) spurned them after originally making a commitment to them in the class of 2007. One close call recently was nearly landing Demetrius Jackson in the 2013 class. Jalen Coleman-Lands made that a distant memory (or at least a little more distant) today.
The Illinois coaching staff has long-standing connections to the state of Indiana which they immediately began working when they arrived, and their persistence paid off with the La Lumiere star. Even when it looked like he was a lock for Notre Dame, the Illini staff did not give in and continued to pursue the four-star talent. Like Illinois, the state to the east has a lot of high-major players year in and year out. The Illini already have offers out to fellow La Lumiere 2016 top 100 prospects Isaac Humphries and Nolan Narain. The state also boasts a strong 2017 and 2018 group, so look for Illinois to continue to search the neighbor state to the east.
From a class of 2015 perspective, it gives them three big time wings that each bring unique skills to the table in D.J. Williams, Aaron Jordan, and the newly-committed Coleman-Lands. All three bring length and the ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter as well as ball handling. The ’15 trio along with Aaron Cosby, Kendrick Nunn, and Malcolm Hill provide quite a perimeter for the Illini going forward.
So what’s next?
Illinois is still in good position with Texas point guard Jawun Evans after a strong official visit. He will take his official to Oklahoma State this weekend. They are the Illini’s chief competition and won’t go down without a fight. Illinois is the front runner right now for Lancaster (TX) power forward Elijah Thomas, who would be a huge addition to the interior for Illinois. Highly rated post Doral Moore is expected to visit officially this weekend in Champaign as well. Illinois is also heavily involved with five-star power forward Carlton Bragg out of Ohio, although his recruitment seems to be at a slightly slower pace for the time being. The Illini now hold a top 10 recruiting class nationally and could rise even higher in future weeks with the addition of any of the previously mentioned prospects.