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Indiana Basketball season in review: Jalen Hood-Schifino

What a Ride it was

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament Semifinals - Penn State vs Indiana Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Hood-Schifino turning into a one and done was not necessarily a surprise to anyone. The highly-touted prospect was ranked in the top 25 in his class, considered the fifth best combo guard in 2022.

What was a surprise was how essential he became to Indiana’s success after Xavier Johnson suffered a season-ending foot injury against Kansas in December. From that moment on, Indiana would mostly live and die with its freshman point guard.

That Indiana landed a four seed in a tournament with a true freshman leading the offense is a testament to just how talented and poised Jalen Hood-Schifino was. On February 25th, for example, he walked into Mackey Arena - the most hostile environment he’d play in all year - and dropped 35 points to complete the season sweep over Purdue.

Indiana’s first matchup with Purdue was another performance in which he showed off his tenacity and poise, scoring 11 points in the second half after a tough start to the game. Despite struggling in the first half, he drove right at Zach Edey with 25 seconds left in the game to finally put the game on ice for Indiana.

An underrated part of Jalen’s game this year was the absolute confidence he had and willingness to play a full 40 minutes every time he took the court. After Johnson went down, the Hoosiers could not afford to have him on the bench, even when he wasn’t playing well.

After the Kansas game, he played fewer than 30 minutes just once - when Indiana blew out Michigan State and got to pull the starters early. In four of the Indiana’s last seven games, he played the full 40 minutes, including on back to back nights in the Big Ten Tournament.

If the shots weren’t falling, the Hoosiers still needed him to facilitate as the best driver and distributor in the back court. He was fifth on the team in 3-pt. % and second in attempts, which made his mere presence crucial to the spacing Indiana needed for its offense to be successful.

Without Jalen Hood-Schifino, it’s hard to see how Indiana notches either of its wins against Purdue, and who knows how the season shakes out without those on the tournament resume. Nine games into his college career, he was handed the keys to a team that had been expected to win a Big Ten Title and he played well enough to keep that dream alive until the last week of the regular season.

With Hood-Schifino at point guard, Indiana had its best NCAA tournament seeding and offensive efficiency rating since 2017.

Like any young NBA prospect, Jalen has some room to grow before he’s a bonafide NBA star, but the professional potential was obvious as soon as he took the floor for the Hoosiers. As he demonstrated on the layup against Edey, he is fully capable of using his 6’6”, 215 lb. frame to get to the hoop and score, even when he can’t beat a guy off the dribble.

At 33.3% from 3-point range, he also showed enough upside as an outside shooter to play himself comfortably into the first round, even reaching the lottery range at a few points this season.