We can admit that we don’t root for our teams because of the high character of the players.
But, hey, sometimes it helps.
Such is the case for Jalen Coleman-Lands at Illinois, the sophomore from Indianapolis who came to Champaign as a prized recruit and has been pretty good for the Illini, despite battling injuries.
Turns out, there’s much more to Coleman-Lands, as the excellent Indianapolis Star sports columnist Gregg Doyel found out.
His story is one that can make us look briefly forget about the up-and-down season for coach John Groce, who is probably safe for another year because of the promise of Jeremiah Tilmon next season.
As for Coleman-Lands, the column above is worth a read.
Doyel is known by some for his shocking! hot! takes! in his former gig at CBS Sports, but has really distinguished himself with his reporting in Indy. Doyel bucked journalism trends, leaving the web and going to a metro newspaper. There, he finds stories that others don’t, and he’s one of the best in the country.
Likewise, Coleman-Lands is a true entrepreneur, a determined and genuine student, and seems like a genuinely nice guy.
(An aside: Maybe it’s the journalist in me, but the dash and spelling of Jalen’s family name is a confusing one for me in the story. Jalen apparently goes by Coleman-Lands, according to Doyel and Illinois athletics… but not Jalen’s own Twitter feed. His mom, Dionne, apparently goes without the dash as “Coleman Lands” and his father is just “Piankhi Lands.” Got it?)
The sophomore is scoring 8.9 points per game but seems to be finding a rhythm after missing most of the preseason with a broken hand.
Coleman-Lands (or whatever it is) and the Illini are 11-5 on the season and are currently tabbed for a play-in game by Bracketology. The Big Ten is full of bubble teams and Illinois will see a couple of them in a two-game homestand this week, playing host to Michigan on Wednesday and then Maryland on Saturday.