In the months leading up to the 2016-’17 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing a new series called the 'BTPowerhouse 25,' which features the Top 25 players in the Big Ten as voted by members of the staff. All players set to be on Big Ten rosters for next season were eligible during the staff vote with their top selection receiving 25 points and their 25th and final selection receiving 1 point.
Week two of our top-25 countdown tips off with the first Illinois Fighting Illini on our list, Jalen Coleman-Lands. Ranking No.22 among the BTPowerhouse staff, Coleman-Lands is one of the lone bright spots of hope in what has been a dumpster fire of a calendar year for John Groce’s program.
‘BTP 25’ - #22 Jalen Coleman-Lands (Illinois):
- Eligibility: Sophomore
- Career Totals: 34 Games, 889 Minutes, 350 Points, 64 Rebounds, 30 Assists, 22 Steals
- 2015-2016 Averages: 26,1 mins, 10.3 pts, 1.9 rebs, 0.9 asts, 0.6 stls
- Position Role: Shooting Guard
The severe injury big that has been going around Champaign the past couple of years has already hit this budding star of a guard hard in his first 12-plus months on campus. Coleman-Lands suffered a stress fracture in his lower left leg prior to last season, though he was able to recover before the season-opener.
News broke over the weekend that Colemand-Lands has suffered another preseason injury, this time it is a broken bone in his right hand. Colemand-Lands had surgery to repair the injury on Friday and is expected to be out for eight weeks, which puts him right on the border of being ready for the Illini’s season opener on Nov. 11th agianst Southeast Missouri State.
Coleman-Lands is already a prolific shooter from the outside, shooting 42.2-percent from beyond the arc. In fact, near two-thirds of his made field goals (87 of 155) were from deep last season.
With a guard-heavy roster like Illinois had, and will have again this season, it can be tough for players, especially freshmen, to stand out and be a significant contributor. Coleman-Lands was able to do just that last season, and with the combination of Malcolm Hill, this could be one of the best back-courts in the conference.
Areas of Improvement
The previous point brings us to the first area of possible improvement for Coleman-Lands, and that would be with distributing the ball. Coleman-Lands averaged less than one assist per game in his freshman campaign. It may be in his best interest to develop his skills towards being a “combo guard” with his 6-foot-3-inch size when thinking about playing at the next level.
On the other end of the spectrum, Coleman-Lands could solidify himself as a pure scorer if he learns to take advantage of defenses likely trying to key off on his perimeter game. It would behoove Coleman-Lands to drive the ball a little more often and force his way to the free throw line. He went 33-for-44 (75-percent) from the charity stripe last season, and this certainly could be pegged as nitpicking, but you’d like to see that shooting percentage jump at least 10 to 15 points this season.
Certainly, the injury suffered last week is a point of concern, but not enough so to expect it to have an extended impact on Coleman-Lands’ second season. The expectations should be for his scoring totals to be more consistent this season. Last year he had a few goose eggs on the stats sheets, but that is to be expected from a freshman that was not a starter from day one.
His point average per game could jump up as much as 5 or 6 points per, and if he can do that, certainly it gives Illinois a chance to end the NCAA Tournament drought and possibly keep John Groce as the head man.