One of the main stories of Indiana’s offseason has been Jalen Hood-Schifino.
The one-and done point guard was drafted in the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers, and his lone season at IU has been on the mind of most of the program’s top recruiting targets in the class of 2024 and beyond.
Hood-Schifino was one of the first marquee high school recruits to commit to play for Mike Woodson. He was a bit of a pioneer, saying yes to IU before Woodson ever coached a college basketball game. Now he’s forged a path for the next wave to follow.
The Pittsburgh, Pa. product was originally offered by former Indiana head coach Archie Miller. Early on Hood-Schifino developed a connection with assistant coach Kenya Hunter.
Once Miller was let go in 2021, it wasn’t clear IU would have much of a shot with the national top-25 Montverde Academy product. But the Hoosiers retained Hunter, and once Hood-Schifino got to know Woodson and the rest of the new staff in the spring and summer of 2021, it was pretty much over.
“My top two were Indiana and Tennessee, but once I met Coach Woody and the rest of his staff and went on my visit, I told my mom ‘yeah, this is it right here,'” Hood-Schifino said on the Knuckleheads podcast with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles.
There was a lot of grumbling when Indiana hired Woodson in 2021. Could he recruit? Could he relate to teenagers? Would his playing style translate to college?
But in the case of Hood-Schifino and other top prospects, it was what Woodson brought with him from the NBA to Indiana that was most appealing.
“Him having NBA experience being a player and a coach, that was definitely one of the main things I was looking at, and then once I met him and got a feel for him, done deal,” Hood-Schifino said.
One of the specific aspects of the NBA Woodson brought with him was a playing style that translates to the next level. It’s an especially attractive system for primary ball handlers, who initiate the offense via a wave of high ball screens, and read and react from there.
That was something that appealed to Hood-Schifino, and it worked for him at IU.
He didn’t arrive in Bloomington as a clear one-and-done prospect, but it was on his mind a year ago.
“My mindset and my goal was to definitely be one and done, but it wasn’t something like I was going in there forcing it, I just went in there and I worked and was myself,” Hood-Schifino said.
As it turned out, Hood-Schifino was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year after averaging 13.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 32 games with Indiana. His 117 total assists ranked fourth-most in a single season by a freshman in program history.
When he declared for the draft, Hood-Schifino told ESPN Woodson and his staff “kept their word by having the ultimate trust in me as a freshman.”
Woodson was invited to sit at Hood-Schifino’s green room table live on the floor at the NBA Draft. That was Hood-Schifino’s way of saying thanks for playing a key role in helping him thrive in his lone season in college.
“College is a different ballgame, but he (Woodson) definitely introduced the NBA style to us, and me being a freshman he allowed me to have the ball in my hands and make plays, so it was a great experience,” Hood-Schifino said.
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