Illinois Basketball: Jalen Coleman-Lands cleared for all basketball activities
John Groce and Illinois basketball are hoping injuries don’t crush their 2016-17 season.
At the beginning of September, Illinois’ fourth leading scorer from last year, Jalen Coleman-Lands, broke his shooting hand in a practice. He was ruled out for eight weeks, putting his status for the Fighting Illini’s November 11th opener in jeopardy.
On Saturday, head coach John Groce received great news when Coleman-Lands was officially fully cleared for all basketball related activities.
With 19 days until Illinois’ first game against Missouri State, Coleman-Lands has plenty of time to get back into form and shake off any rust that is expected to affect his jump shot. He should be on track to play, even if it’s in limited minutes.
Coleman-Lands, who is a former four-star recruit in the class of 2015, averaged 10.3 points, 1.9 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game last season. He shot 41 percent from the field overall, 42 percent from beyond the three point arc and 75 percent from the free throw strike.
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The 6’3″, 190 pound guard is projected to play an even bigger role in 2016-17, alongside veteran point guard Tracy Abrams and potential First Team All-Big Ten player Malcolm Hill in the team’s backcourt.
The Illini return five of their top six scorers (with the exception of Kendrick Nunn) and should be a fairly dangerous team in the Big Ten if they avoid injuries. In 2015-16, Abrams suffered a torn Achilles before the season began, Mike Thorne Jr. went down with a knee injury, Nunn had a thumb issue and Leron Black battled his own knee concerns.
Coleman-Lands hasn’t been injury free in his career either. Before his freshman campaign began, he dealt with a stress fracture in his foot that placed him on the sideline and surely impacted his development.
The guard could improve enough to jump onto NBA scouts’ radar. He has good athleticism, solid scoring ability and is a capable shooter from deep. He also rarely turns the ball over.
Coleman-Lands has the opportunity to impress NBA organizations if he becomes a better playmaker and rebounder, while also helping the Illini win meaningful games in the Big Ten. And Illinois has a shot to do so if their key players stay healthy for the entire season.