Illinois dipped into some unfamiliar recruiting territory in adding to its growing and talented recruiting class.
Coach John Groce crossed the border and secured a commitment from Jalen Coleman, a highly-regarded 6-3 guard from Indianapolis. The pure shooter plays at La Lumiere Prep School in Indiana.
Groce and Illinois, who already have commitments from Simeon’s versatile D.J Williams and Plainfield East scoring guard Aaron Jordan, have now locked up three Top 100 players in the country, with Coleman the highest ranked of the three.
Coleman, ranked as the No. 34 player in the country by ESPN, No. 35 by Scout and No. 37 by Rivals, is the highest ranked prospect Illinois has landed since Waukegan’s Jereme Richmond in 2010.
Last season while playing a high-level schedule with La Lumiere, Coleman averaged 19.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists a game as a junior.
At one point Coleman was prominently mentioned with Michigan. Then it was Notre Dame, where he visited on three separate occasions. When Notre Dame, which offered Coleman during his freshman year while at Cathedral High in Indianapolis, took a commitment from 6-4 shooting guard Rex Pflueger of Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), the Coleman recruitment shifted.
In the end it came down to UNLV and Illinois. Coleman officially visited Notre Dame, UNLV and Illinois in September.
Illinois impressed on Coleman’s visit this past weekend. Now Groce has a player from a place –– Indiana –– where the Illinois basketball program has had zero success recruiting over the years (Remember the Eric Gordon saga?) and has rarely targeted.
More importantly, no matter where the player came from, Groce has added a huge piece going forward.
Coleman is a smooth, fluid shooter with range, a quick release and good size on the perimeter. He’s a gifted offensive threat who can score in multiple ways, whether it’s mid-range, from the three-point line, off the catch or dribble. Coleman showed that offensive prowess on the Nike EYBL circuit this past spring and summer, averaging just over 15 points a game while shooting an impressive 50 percent from three-point range (46 of 92).
Illinois now sets its sights on closing the deal with the Texas tandem of point guard Jawun Evans and big man Elijah Thomas. Both have visited Illinois the past two weeks and have the Fighting Illini at or near the top of their lists as they head down the home stretch of their respective recruitments.