Illini basketball

Jalen Coleman-Lands — point guard?

furniture lounge orange couch adLast week,  after Jalen Coleman tweeted his commitment to study at the University of Illinois, we learned a few things about him. For one, his name: It’s Jalen Coleman-Lands. Piankhi Lands is Jalen’s father. Dionne Coleman is Jalen’s mother. They live together in Indianapolis.  Also, they are married.

Jalen’s parents waited way longer to get married than you’d expect if you got all your news from CBN, or watched re-runs of Ozzie & Harriet and Leave it to Beaver, excluding all other media. In truth, though, they’re simply part of the majority of Americans who wait way, way longer to get married, if they do get married at all.

I talked to a number of people about the Coleman-Lands family, about Jalen as a person, and as a student. It’s a feel good story for Illini basketball.  That’ll publish later.

For now, here’s an excerpt from my interview with Jalen’s coach at La Lumiere Academy. Shane Heirman was a college basketball player himself, not too long ago. Here, we talk only about the basketball aspect of Jalen Coleman-Lands, which is a teeny-tiny fraction of the story.

On the other hand, it’s important to know — as Illini Nation sweats out Jawun Evans’s college choice, scheduled for Wednesday — whether Coleman-Lands can play point-guard.

Heirman points out that anybody playing in Illinois’ offense better be capable of handling the ball.

Here’s the audio. The text is below.

People in Illinois are thinking he might be playing point guard. Is that the case?


Ultimately what he does best is make shots, and he does that at a very elite level. He’s got good ball skill, and he works hard on that position. I think he’d ultimately like to make that transition. It’s going to be an evolution for him, though. It’s not going to happen overnight.

He’s going to go through some growing pains of transitioning to that position. I think it’s still a little ways out. You know, I think he’s still going to be productive, just with his shot-making abilities.

What position is he going to play for you this year?


He’s a combo. I think the same thing for him; I don’t think he gets wrapped up in the title, you know? I think he’s a guard that’s going to affect the game in a lot of different ways.

So he’ll play a little point, or play a little two (shooting guard), but more than anything, he’s a guard for us.

Do you know anything about how his position in college was sold to him? Because, you know, Illinois fans are still looking at adding another point guard, possibly, and then some people think he’s “the one.” Do you have any idea how that was sold?


I think the vision is kind of similar to what I said. I think they see him as a guard more than anything, too. Regardless, in your offense,primarily ball-screen offense, you’re still having to make plays. You’re playing a lot of point guard even if you’re on the wing. You’re having to read and react to defenses.

 And I think the hope is that, ideally, he can transition there  full-time at some point in his career. When that is is kind of predicated on him working at it, and studying the game, picking it up that way.


Can you tell me about the recruiting process and how much time you spent around the Illini coaching staff?


I got to know those guys pretty well, throughout the process. It’s a boarding school. He’s here pretty much year-round, with the exception of a couple of months in the summer.

 They were frequent visitors up here, and they are one of the hardest if not the hardest working staff in the country — and we get to see quite a few staffs, with our roster.

So, they put a lot of time and effort into him, and respected the process, and how he wanted the process to go. I think that’s what paid off for them.

Was it mostly Jamall (Walker)? Did Dustin (Ford) and Paris Parham ever some by?


Yeah, it was mainly Jamall. Dustin came up here one time. It was mainly Jamall and Coach Groce.

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