INDIANAPOLIS -- Jalen Coleman gets it. He really does. In a basketball world where individual glory often dominates, he seeks the big prize:
Coleman is a guard catalyst for Indiana Elite Team Indiana in its quest for travel ball championships. Before that, he was a sophomore leadership spark for an Indianapolis Cathedral team that finished second in the Indiana state 4A tourney to Carmel. Rivals.com, a national Internet recruiting service, rates him as the nation’s No. 35 player in the Class of 2015. Those are some of the reasons why Indiana and Purdue are among the teams to have already offered him.
Yes, Coleman puts up numbers. When you’re 6-4 and 180 pounds, when you’re swift and athletic, you tend to do that.
Coleman wants more.
“Winning titles is extremely important for me. As far as my teammates, it’s also extremely important. It’s an awesome mentality. I don’t like playing unless it’s for a win.”
Such statements are like manna from heaven for college coaches such as Purdue’s Matt Painter and Indiana’s Tom Crean, who emphasize recruiting players who have won at every level.
That emphasis motivates Coleman to win even more.
“Whatever tournament I am in, whatever team I’m on, I try to persuade my teammates to feed off my enthusiasm on wanting to win,” he said. “Hopefully that builds up.”
Coleman was on a Spiece travel team last year, but switched to an Indiana Elite squad that already had such nationally regarded players as Hyron Edwards and Chandler White (the Carroll standout).
“Anything I do I want to be a playmaker,” Coleman said. “I want to be a leader. If I’m on a team, I’m there to win. Players can feed off my energy and win.”
It worked in a pair of Saturday games at the adidas Spring Classic at Indianapolis North Central High School. Indiana Elite cruised to easy victories. Coleman had 13 points in one game, 12 in the other. The lopsided victories meant limited minutes for him.
Indiana Elite reached the semifinals of a tourney in Indianapolis two weeks ago, and lost in the finals of last weekend’s tourney in Dallas.
Coleman continues to draw impressive recruiting interest. Besides IU and Purdue, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Ohio State, Illinois and Providence have offered scholarships. Michigan and Michigan State, which have recruited the state of Indiana hard in recent years, also are taking long looks at him.
In terms of what he’s looking for in a school, Coleman said he wants a program that will work with him before he even gets there in terms of guidance on what to improve and how to do it.
“Tell me what I need to work on so when I come in, I can fall into the program and be able to play.”
Coleman is thin, but has the frame to add 20 to 30 pounds by the time he’s a college upperclassmen. He said he’s already begun that process.
“I’ve been working on my strength, using my height and my strength as a point guard. As a combo guard, be able to shoot, dribble, pass and finish with contact.”
Beyond that, Coleman wants to improve his versatility. He wants to “get to the rack” and do more than just “be a shooter coming off ball screens.” He wants to be harder to guard.
Coleman exhibited impressive leadership skills during this past postseason for Cathedral. Team suspensions forced him into more of a leadership role than he already had and he thrived. He averaged 14.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists, and shot 45.7 percent from three-point range. Cathedral, which also had IU-signee Collin Hartman, went 25-6 against a brutal schedule
Coleman was at his best in last March’s regional finals, when he scored 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter as Cathedral rallied past Pike to the championship.
He hasn’t slowed down, and doesn’t plan to.
“I enjoy this,” he said. “If you love the sport, it’s always enjoyable and I love the sport.”