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Indiana men’s basketball: How Jalen Hood-Schifino sets the Hoosiers up for the future

Jalen Hood-Schifino is off to the NBA, but his presence in Bloomington could be felt for years to come.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round-Miami (FL) vs Indiana Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana men’s basketball’s Jalen Hood-Schifino declared for the NBA Draft following an impressive freshman season in Bloomington that saw him earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors.

The promise of Indiana’s 2022-23 season was largely based on the pairing of Hood-Schifino with Johnson in the Hoosiers’ backcourt. Johnson had experience running the offense and had a season of Big Ten play under his belt while Hood-Schifino had all the talent and potential one could ask for.

In theory, Hood-Schifino would have the opportunity to develop without too much pressure on him thanks to Johnson. The latter’s foot injury against Kansas, which ultimately ended his season, threw a wrench in that vision.

Hood-Schifino became Indiana’s primary ball handler and was tasked with running Indiana’s offense instead of being a key cog in it. This arguably worked out in his favor as his development was fast-tracked.

He had his freshman moments, but that was to be expected. Asking for a perfect season from a true freshmen playing in the Big Ten, with all of its issues, is a tall order and he worked well with what he was given.

He cemented his Indiana legacy with highlight reel performances such as his game against Ohio State at home and the utter devastation he brought upon Purdue’s defense at Mackey Arena to cement the season sweep of the Boilermakers.

His time with the Hoosiers may have ended in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, but his presence could very well be felt around Bloomington for years to come.

For example, it was well-known that Hood-Schifino was a draft prospect heading into the season. The program held a preseason pro day and his performance shined the brightest. But his draft position wasn’t a sure thing, he was projected late in the first round.

Then his performance sent him up draft boards all the way to lottery consideration. It made his decision to ultimately enter the draft that much more of a clear choice.

This was always the promise of what Mike Woodson offered and is clearly a massive component of Indiana’s recruiting strategy. Woodson is a career NBA coach who knows what the league demands on the court and what traits front offices look for in prospects.

It’s how he persuaded Trayce Jackson-Davis to stay in Bloomington two years ago, saying he wasn’t ready and had plenty to work on. That resulted in a First Team All-America nod for Indiana’s star forward.

The draft gives prospects the opportunity to head to the league and receive NBA-level coaching, but recruits can spend some time in Bloomington to receive the same level of coaching from a head coach that understands the landscape more than most.

Hood-Schifino and Jackson-Davis are two clear examples of players with NBA dreams that have gotten better under Woodson’s tutelage, but the bonuses of his past in the league reaches far beyond the court. He brought a wealth of connections with him to Bloomington, with plenty of figures in the NBA world stopping by practice.

If there’s a decision maker at the NBA level, the odds are pretty good they either know Woodson or have one degree of separation from him. That’s incredibly enticing to recruits and parents considering Bloomington, something that most coaches at the college level have to build over years of effort.

It helps that Hood-Schifino’s draft announcement was boosted by ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, who secured an exclusive interview for a brief story. That tweet is in the feed of countless high school recruits in America.

And it gets even better. Check out what Hood-Schifino said to Woj about his time in Bloomington:

That’s about as stellar of an endorsement of a program from a high profile NBA Draft prospect that you could hope for. Woodson and his staff empowered Hood-Schifino during his time in Bloomington to help the team in the moment while setting him up for the future.

The message for recruits is clear: come to Bloomington. We’ll help you win at the college level while setting you up for the future. We’ll keep our word and trust you, there’s a reason why you’re on our radar in the first place.

The payoff is on the horizon, for both Hood-Schifino and Indiana. Woodson and company can already say they helped send