Coleman-Lands looks to solve Illinois’ injury problems in future


By Matt Gertsmeier, Columnist


Last season, Illinois basketball was plagued with injuries.

From start to finish, it seemed like head coach John Groce couldn’t catch a break.

But, the Illini might have found a solution to their problems from one of their own who has battled with setbacks.

They just might have to wait a few years.

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    Jalen Coleman-Lands is only a sophomore but has had his fair share of injuries. As a freshman, he battled a stress fracture in his leg and this past September, he suffered a broken hand.

    He has been immersed in the health-field, dealing with doctors and appointments whether he wanted them or not. But one day, he wants to be a part of the solution.

    “I’ve always wanted to start my own medical device firm,” Coleman-Lands said. “That’s the ultimate goal. Technology is starting to modernize. As (health) becomes more technology-based, that’s where I want to go.”

    He doesn’t have a specific sector he wants to focus on. He says right now he would want different instruments to cover a wide range.

    For now, it’s an idea. But it’s an idea he’s prepared to make a reality because of his experience playing basketball.

    “I feel that I can use the marketing standpoint of being able to interview and being personable,” Coleman-Lands said. “That translates to talking about my instruments and my devices. Hopefully my name and my brand will speak for itself.”

    For now, Coleman-Lands and Illinois will have to rely on team doctors and trainers to keep up their health. Athletic trainer Paul Schmidt and strength and conditioning coach Adam Fletcher have already been making an impact this season, especially on Coleman-Lands.

    When it was first announced Coleman- Lands broke his hand in September, many people speculated he wouldn’t be able to return until the season opener on Nov. 11 against Southeast Missouri State.

    During Illini Media Day in October, Groce made it clear Coleman-Lands was exceeding recovery expectations.

    “Great to hear from Schmidty, our trainer, that he’s going to be able to do some things this next week, which is a little bit earlier than we thought,” Groce said. “The prognosis is we ultimately get him full go a lot earlier than what we thought.”

    The Illini got him back much sooner than that.

    Coleman-Lands played in Illinois’ first exhibition game on Oct. 30 against Washington University. He played 22 minutes and recorded 11 points and four rebounds.

    Despite being sidelined with his injury in early fall, Coleman-Lands still worked on his conditioning and strength with Fletcher. Coleman-Lands says that was vital to him because he could control his physicality even though he was injured. He believes that Fletcher’s impact translates to the game itself.

    “That physical standpoint helps with that mentality, and I feel like that’s something he’s instilled in us,” Coleman-Lands said. “Not only just working out, but pushing yourself to your limit and pushing yourself to a certain standard where it translates to on the court and in the games.”

    Fletcher joined Illinois’ staff in August of 2015. This was his first summer off-season with the Illini, and the results showed. Fletcher posted players’ 8-10 month changes, and there were significant improvements in terms of strength.

    In the near future, Schmidt and Fletcher might be in business with Coleman-Lands once his firm gets up and running.

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