Jalen Hood-Schifino might not fill an obvious need spot in Indiana’s roster in the Class of 2022. Heading into the 2021-22 season, they already have four years of eligibility each for point guard Khristian Lander and shooting guards Tamar Bates, Anthony Leal and Trey Galloway. That’s to say nothing of the two years each that point guards Xavier Johnson and Rob Phinisee have remaining and the two years shooting guard Parker Stewart still has left having played two seasons and sat out two others.
But the Hoosiers are hotly pursuing Hood-Schifino, the 6-foot-5, 210-pound guard from Monteverde Academy in Florida who took his official visit to Indiana this week, because he has a collection of skills that could serve him at either the 1 or the 2 and with the transfer portal operating as it has, no team can ever have too much talent at any particular spot.
Hood-Schifino did not return calls or text messages from the Daily Hoosier Wednesday seeking comment on his visit, but Norton Hurd IV, the program director and head coach of Hood-Schifino’s Memphis-based travel program Team Thad, said that whoever does get Hood-Schifino will get a player who can both create and score.
“He is a point guard,” Hurd said. “He can play either position, but he is a point guard. But I think what is really underrated about his game right now — he’s a versatile guy and a really skilled guy — but I think what is going to shock everybody at Peach Jam is how well he can shoot the ball.”
Hurd said Hood-Schifino’s range is improving all the time and that he can shoot both out of a standstill position and on the move.
“He’s put in the work,” Hurd said. “He’s more confident in it having more opportunity. He has range. He can do it all. He doesn’t settle. He mixes it up. I think that’s going to be one element. The shooting is going to be a surprise to some. He can hit it off the pick and roll. He can take a smaller guard to the whole, and he can really score at all three levels.”
Hurd thinks he’s best with the ball in his hand because he is so savvy. He comes from a family of basketball players and athletes. His mother Angel and uncles Jake and Drew Schifino were all basketball stars at Penn Hills High School in the Pittsburgh suburbs. Angel played college basketball at Lock Haven, Drew played at West Virginia and spent time playing professionally overseas. Jake played football at Akron and then spent four years in the NFL as a wide receiver and kickoff returner with the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans.
“He handles the ball so well,” Hurd said of Hood-Schifino. “He has a high IQ and he creates for himself and others at a high level. He’s a guy who’s going to do whatever the team needs him to do, but he is best with the ball in his hands.”
And he can also defend. Team Thad, a program created by former Pacers forward Thaddeus Young, is traditionally defense oriented and Hood-Schifino fits in that mold.
“We’re one of the more defensive teams on the AAU, grassroots circuit, so you have to do that,” Hurd said. “He grew up playing D. He’s very good on-ball. And he’s so big at 6-5 that he can handle multiple positions. He can defend 1-3 for sure and with some 4s he can hold his own.”
Hood-Schifino was initially committed to Pittsburgh, but the Panthers have gone in a different direction and actually cancelled his official visit. He has also made official visits to Georgetown and Tennessee. He has 15 reported offers, including Arizona State, Clemson, Florida, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Kansas, Seton Hall, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.
“I don’t know if there’s a timetable or anything like that,” Hurd said. “.. He took three visits this month. He liked them all. He liked Tennessee, he likes Indiana, he likes Georgetown. He had three really good visits. From my understanding, he’s just looking for the right fit.”
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