‘He’s an energy giver’: Jalen Coleman-Lands’ impact on Iowa State basketball

Jalen Coleman-Lands handles the ball against South Dakota State at Hilton Coliseum on Dec. 2.

Matt Belinson

On the court. On the bench. In practice. During games. No matter where he is, Jalen Coleman-Lands’ presence is felt by the Iowa State men’s basketball team.

And it’s all about his energy.

The term “energy” is typically labeled in basketball to the loudest person on the floor, or perhaps the most talented playmaker on a given team.

In Coleman-Lands’ case, it’s the “different mindset” he brings to practice, according to Head Coach Steve Prohm, an engaging attitude and spirit that Iowa State will need throughout the turbulence of playing basketball in 2020. 

From a numbers standpoint, Coleman-Lands stands out even before you can feel his energy in person.

A career 37.4 percent 3-point shooter, the DePaul transfer has already brought shotmaking and efficient scoring Iowa State lacked across the board a year ago. In his first two games as a Cyclone, Coleman-Lands has scored 29 points combined on 46 percent shooting from the field.

If everything works out health-wise and if he takes the right shots, Prohm sees a 40 percent 3-point shooter and someone who will use his spirit to lead a relatively new group for the Cyclones this season.

But Coleman-Lands’ importance doesn’t start with his resume of shotmaking or his knowledge of basketball at the collegiate level.

It starts with the energy he can bring to Iowa State every single day.

“The biggest thing we need from him is from his energy everyday,” Prohm said.

Presence on and off the floor

As the first initial weeks of practice began for Iowa State, the injury bug hit the team hard.

Prized recruit Xavier Foster battled concussions, Tre Jackson had knee issues, 2019 sit-out Javan Johnson was sick and freshman Jaden Walker was recovering from an offseason surgery.

Coleman-Lands had to sit out of practice until the start of November with hamstring issues, but that didn’t stop him from being a constant source of leadership and energy as the team started to work its way together.

The time off the court and on the sideline gave Coleman-Lands a chance to show Prohm his engaging personality. Because of the unprecedented offseason, Coleman-Lands never even came to Ames before he decided to transfer, joking that time away from practice would be the perfect opportunity to finally get his official campus visit.

“I went by to check on him and make sure he’s doing alright and was just messing with him a little bit, and he said, ‘Yeah, coach, I’m on my official visit, I get two days where I don’t have to do anything and y’all gotta treat me really well, taking me out to dinner,’ so we were laughing about that,” Prohm said. “He’s gonna be really, really successful. He’s gonna have an opportunity to play basketball for a while after college.”

Johnson, a transfer from Troy, has finally begun his Iowa State career after sitting out all of last season due to NCAA transfer rules and said in the early days of practice and every day since, Coleman-Lands’ voice has been there.

It comes with the territory of being a six-year veteran in college basketball, and Johnson said having the experience Coleman-Lands has makes his vocal presence and guidance a helpful tool with such a limited offseason together.

“Even when he’s not practicing, we hear his voice,” Johnson said. 

Fellow transfer Tyler Harris said Coleman-Lands does all the little things in practice that can show how much passion and energy someone is playing with.

Whether it’s taking a charge, talking with teammates in transition or pumping guys up after a big shot or dunk, the consistent work ethic has been there.

Harris said in a season where adversity can come at any moment, having a teammate like Coleman-Lands makes the difficult times a lot less stressful. 

It’s why he calls Coleman-Lands “The Vet.”

“I always call him ‘The Vet’ so I know when a situation gets tough, he’s going to be ready,” Harris said. “I mean, he’s been there and done that longer than anyone else on the team. To me, he’s the vet.”

Creating your own energy

In early November, Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard announced attendance for Iowa State men’s and women’s basketball games would be at limited capacity due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Hilton Coliseum’s usual capacity of 14,384 would be limited to 1,373 fans this season, leaving the tradition of “Hilton Magic” significantly reduced.

All the more reason why Coleman-Lands preaches the need to create your own energy and intensity this season.

For Coleman-Lands, it starts with preparation, staying consistent with how you approach practice or study film between games. Iowa State has grown accustomed this offseason to practicing without fans and working in smaller groups, so creating energy has been on top of mind for Coleman-Lands, even before he stepped out onto the court at Hilton.

“Especially now, with the expected attendance at games is going to 10 percent, you gotta bring your own energy,” Coleman-Lands said. “At the end of the day, energy is what wins games, what creates synergy.”

One of Iowa State’s returners from a season ago is junior forward George Conditt IV, a player who has made a name for himself as a Cyclone by feeding off Hilton’s crowd and by bringing his own flare to the team.

He and Coleman-Lands have worked in tandem in practice on constantly finding ways to get the energy going. They both have been finishing plays, getting their closeouts and slamming home big-time dunks, all signs showing teammates the kind of intensity Coleman-Lands and Conditt expect. 

Safe to say, Conditt has been glad to have a player with Coleman-Lands’ motor and passion in the early stages of the 2020-21 season.

“Having a teammate like [Coleman-Lands] coming in and bringing that same type of energy I’m trying to bring is great,” Conditt said. “He’s really driven.”

With a roster full of new transfers, recruits and returning players in increased roles, Conditt said if the team can buy into the energy he and Coleman-Lands are trying to bring, it will help in the long run.

It’ll take some time, but Conditt said with Coleman-Lands in step with him, they will be able to spread their drive to the rest of their teammates, creating better chemistry on the roster.

“That’s the main goal, is to try and get everyone into it, and I believe with [Coleman-Lands’] help, we can do that,” Conditt said.

‘He’s an energy giver’

Coleman-Lands’ spirit and attitude toward the game have reminded Prohm of a former Cyclone who understood the value of bringing life to his teammates and creating a lively environment everywhere he goes.

That player? Naz Mitrou-Long.

“Man, he could be a little bit like [Mitrou-Long] for us from a standpoint of he can really make shots, he’s got great energy and great spirit about him,” Prohm said.

But beyond the Iowa State comparisons, the engaging personality of Coleman-Lands fits with a favorite phrase of Prohm’s – the energy bus.

A common adage of Prohm’s is about “being on the energy bus,” a phrase from the book of the same name: “Energy Bus” by Jon Gordon, a 10-rule guidebook about spotting and cultivating leadership and energy in any work environment.

In the book, “being on the energy bus” simply means someone is always giving positive energy to those around them, most often in simple ways that might not fit what many in sports consider energy.

“I mean, everyone’s read the book “Energy Bus,” he’s on the energy bus,” Prohm said. “He’s an energy giver and [I’m] really excited about him.”

As Gordon describes it in the book, the criteria to get on the bus usually start with someone’s basic personality traits — spreading optimism, enthusiasm or giving 100 percent effort.

Another chapter of the book details what Gordon calls “energy vampires,” or people who spend more time sucking away the energy of others than bringing their own. It might not even be a conscious effort to harm the energy in a workplace, but it’s important to identify who each person is on the spectrum, according to Gordon.

In his words, it’s just a fact of life — some people naturally give energy and some people can’t help but take it away. 

Prohm thinks the former is true of Coleman-Lands.

“You got energy givers and energy takers, and [Coleman-Lands] is an energy giver.”