Editor’s note: This is the second in a seven-part series from The Flash Today covering the 11 members of the 2017 men’s basketball recruiting class at Tarleton State. Today, we get to know Albany (Division I) transfer Jaraan Lands. Thursday through Saturday we take a closer look at the remaining college transfers, and next Monday and Tuesday the series concludes with more on the seven high school signees.
By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (June 21, 2017) — In junior transfer Jaraan Lands, Tarleton State found a big power forward with Division I talent and a proven track record of winning.
After reaching the Marion County championship game while averaging 17 points and eight rebounds as a senior at Warren Central High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, pouring in 16.8 points and collecting 8.6 rebounds in a 35-win junior college season at Eastern Arizona College then scoring 5.4 points with 3.8 boards to help NCAA Division I mid-major Albany (NY) to 21 wins this past season, one thing is clear – Lands is not accustomed to losing.
Now the 6-7, 245-pound inside-out post player has plans on continuing his winning ways as he completes his college career at Division II Tarleton, where he has learned a waiver from the NCAA has provided him a medical redshirt and, therefore, a second year of eligibility with the Texans.
“That’s huge for us,” said Chris Reisman on Tuesday, June 27, when this article was updated to include the news of the waiver. “To get a guy like Lands for one year was big, but now all our transfers have multiple years to play here.”
Reisman saw Lands before ever left a junior college in Arizona for the bright lights of New York. He reconnected with the big man as soon as he heard of him leaving Albany.
“Coach Chris Reisman heard I was looking to transfer and called me and said he wanted to visit about me coming to Tarleton,” said Lands. “Until then I had never even been to a Division II school. I’ve known guys from junior college who went to play in Division II, but for me personally, that was the start of a whole new experience.”
Chris Reisman has been part of 395 wins over 17 seasons on the bench alongside his father, Tarleton head coach and athletic director Lonn Reisman. A former Texan player himself, Chris immediately penciled Lands onto his recruiting wish list and made it a point to get the one-year transfer onto the Tarleton campus.
“He called and soon after that I came down here for a visit to check it out,” said Lands. “I was surprised by the caliber of athletes that are here. When we played a couple pickup games, I didn’t notice much difference between the guys here and the guys I played with in Division I. There are talented guys here who I know could play DI right now.”
Lands says he fell in love with Tarleton from the moment he set foot on campus for his visit, and the rest is history. He is part of recruiting class that includes three other college transfers and seven prospects making the leap from high school to the Lone Star Conference. Comparing his days at Albany to what he has experienced on his visit and since arriving to spend the summer in Stephenville, Lands believes all the new Texans are in for a Division I experience with Division II hospitality.
“Tarleton is almost as big as Albany, and since I’ve been here, it seems they do everything as good here as they do there,” said Lands. “The players are great, the campus is beautiful and the people are friendly and welcoming. I really like it here in Stephenville, and I already feel right at home.”
Albany, part of the State Universities of New York (SUNY) system, does have a larger enrollment with 17,178 students in 2016, but not overwhelmingly so as Tarleton, according to the homepage of its university website, has 13,052 total students enrolled (most but not all on its Stephenville campus), more than nearby TCU (9,518), the champion of the Division I NIT this past season.
“The first time I ever came to Texas was on my visit to Tarleton, and I didn’t really know what to expect,” Lands said. “It’s hot out here now, but really, it hasn’t been a culture shock or anything. I’m enjoying being here and can’t wait to get the season started.”
Tarleton reached the South Central Region Championship, which includes the opening three rounds of the NCAA Division II championship for teams in the Lone Star, Heartland and Rocky Mountain Athletic conferences, 14 of the past 16 years, and Chris Reisman believes Lands brings the type of talent the Texans need to win a fifth regional title and advance to a fifth Elite Eight after accomplishing that fete in 2005, 2006, 2015 and 2016.
“Jaraan is a versatile mismatch player who can score in a variety of ways and play multiple positions,” said Chris Reisman. “He’s deceivingly quick, especially off the bounce, and he has a good IQ for the game. He reminds me a little of Tashawn Mabry.”
That’s almost exactly how Lands described his own game during a Tuesday evening interview with The Flash Today.
“I see myself as an inside-out player with the size and strength to post up smaller defenders on the block or make a big man step outside and use my skill to take him on the wing,” said Lands. “And I like to rebound, that’s a big part of what I do is getting on the boards.”
Lonn Reisman left quite the first impression on Lands.
“He’s very different, energetic, straight to the point and very outgoing,” Lands said of the 30th year Tarleton head coach who leads all current Texas college coaches in career wins and is one of only six Division II coaches with more than 600. “He struck me as a good person who cares a lot about his players, not only from a basketball standpoint, but with everything off the court, too. He’s one of the main reasons I came here, because I like him a lot.”
Lands is one of two Division I transfers to Tarleton who are listed as power forwards, and the Texans have two young standouts at that position already. Jesse Hill has made his way to Stephenville from Florida Atlantic, while Anthony Davis was Freshman of the Year in the LSC and Josh Hawley also returns as a sophomore. There are also two incoming high school signees listed as power forwards.
Chris Reisman says Lands was one of his favorite junior college players to watch two years ago, but the Eastern Arizona coach was a friend of his who assured him Lands would be heading off to Division I.
“I told every mid-major school where I have friends about him, but ultimately he chose Albany,” said Chris.
But he kept an eye on the power forward with the ability to stretch defenses the way so many stretch-4’s have for Tarleton in the past. And now he gets to see him do it wearing purple and white.
That’s good news for Lands, who hopes to use his Division I experience and winning track record to be a leader for the Texans.
“I think having played at that level and having seen what it takes to win at every level where I have played, that I can be a leader,” Lands said. “I believe I can show those things to my teammates and hopefully have an impact on us winning here at Tarleton.”