Editor's Note: Harrington's analysis on Kendrick Nunn was schedule to be posted on Thursday night. Given his arrest on charges of domestic battery and his subsequent indefinite suspension, Illini Inquirer has chosen to hold off on Harrington's piece, which included the line, "There can’t be any distractions for Nunn this year." Read Harrington's breakdown of Malcolm Hill.
Season in Review
Key Stats: 10.3 points, 1.9 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.6 steals, 41.2 FG%, 75.0 FT%, 42.2 3FG%
Jalen Coleman-Lands started his Illini career with a great freshman campaign. It's clear that JCL can really shoot the basketball from long range, setting the Illini freshman record with 87 made threes. There were several games that he was the lone bright spot of the offense. He scored 15 points or more in nine games. He made three or more three-pointers in a game 19 times. Coleman-Lands didn’t need plays to be called for him in order to get his shot up because he can shoot off the catch, on the move or off the dribble from deep. Every team needs a knock down shooter from three, but Coleman-Lands has the skill set to do more than just stay beyond the arc. Yet, 74 percent of his shot attempts came from outside the arc. After averaging under an assist per game and finishing with a negative assist -to-turnover ratio (0.83) -- though he committed only 14 turnovers in 18 conference games -- Coleman-Lands needs to improve his ball handling this offseason to become a more complete player.
Shoot, shoot and shoot. This offseason, JCL needs to work on attacking and ball handling -- but don’t forget what you are really good at. Every day, Coleman-Lands must work on shooting from three. He gets a lot of good looks in transition, so he needs to make 15 threes a day starting at half court and dribbling into his shot. Also, he needs to make 20 threes, 10 on each side of the floor running the floor and catching a pass and going right into the shot. Make another 20 on each side of the floor coming off baseline runners and curl wing threes. Finish off the three-point circuit by making 10 threes from five different spots on the court in a catch-and-shoot situation. Great shooters are products of this kind of repetition.
To improve attacking the rim and lane, Coleman-Lands needs to work on shots off the move. Repeat the three-point circuit but this time go right and left off the dribble from those same spots, working on mid-range jumpers and occasionally getting all the way to the rim -- sometimes going on the catch and sometimes utilizing a shot fake. This is how he can become a dual-threat because during the games, he'll catch the ball in these spots with defenders flying at him to chase him off the line.
Ball handling improvement will be important this offseason. Adding a lot of weak-hand series drills would be beneficial. This consists of a few stationary dribbles and then pass to a partner or the wall. The ball then returns to you and you do it again. There are about five different dribble drills in this series to improve ball handling. You do each dribble drill about 10 times with each hand. Two-ball dribbling drills would also help to improve ball handling and improve his assist-to-turnover ratio.
Next, watching film will be a big step moving forward. The talented players who study film generally become great players. Film will show him where there are driving lanes and open teammates. He will also see how teams are defending him on his cuts.
Next season will be a big one for Coleman-Lands. Basketball observers often discuss the sophomore slump. JCL must avoid that. By working hard this offseason, he should avoid a letdown. Coleman-Lands should again be a double-figure scorer next season. Evolving into a dual-threat will help open him up for more looks. His shot attempts from three should only account for 55 percent of his attempts next year as compared to 74 percent this year. By putting the ball on the floor more, he should see his free throw attempts rise above 50 attempts on the season. He should average more than 1.5 assists per game and have a positive assist-to-turnover ratio. His percentage from three should remain in the low 40’s.
Sean Harrington is the basketball analyst for IlliniInquirer.com and also serves as a color analyst for ESPN. He played for four NCAA Tournament teams at Illinois, from 1999-2002. He also served on coaching staffs for Rick Majerus, Bill Self, Rob Judson and Bruce Weber. Follow him on Twitter @smharrington24.