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Indiana basketball: Jalen Hood-Schifino ready for the present, future of the Los Angeles Lakers

Jalen Hood-Schifino can help Los Angeles now while playing a larger role in the future.

2023 NBA Draft Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

When Jalen Hood-Schifino committed to play for Indiana men’s basketball and Mike Woodson back in 2021, he did so wearing a No. 8 Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers jersey.

Then, with the 17th overall pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday night, those same callers called his number. He’s the highest pick for Los Angeles since 2019 and the first Hoosier to be selected in the first round since Romeo Langford in 2019.

Here’s what it all means:

For Indiana men’s basketball...

It certainly helps Indiana that the first player to be recruited, developed and ultimately drafted out of the program by Mike Woodson went to one of the most high-profile franchises in all of sport.

Countless recruits across the country already knew his name from playing with him or degrees of separation from those who have. Now countless more heard the name “Jalen Hood-Schfino. Guard, Indiana University.” on ESPN on Thursday night.

When he takes the court, he’ll constantly be on national television and his team will be discussed because they’re the NBA’s biggest brand and LeBron James’ current team.

Hood-Schifino is incredibly proud of having gone through Bloomington, an image of he and Woodson on the Assembly Hall sidelines was stitched into his draft night suit and he’s spoken very highly of the program and staff since declaring for the draft.

A message of “Indiana will get you to the NBA” is conveyed through him getting drafted, but Hood-Schifino is going above and beyond. That’s meaningful, particularly because he’s the first.

But Indiana’s been here before, no? Romeo Langford was selected 14th overall by another high-profile organization, the Boston Celtics, back in 2019 when Archie Miller was Indiana’s head coach.

There’s some obvious differences here. For one, Langford was an Indiana kid who was almost certain to have the Hoosiers at the very least among his final choices. Langford’s Hoosiers didn’t reach the tournament and Miller didn’t turn his recruitment into landing more high-level NBA caliber talent.

Hood-Schifino made the tournament during his lone season with Indiana and cemented himself in Hoosiers lore with his 35-point game on the road to sweep Purdue. Woodson added two NBA first round caliber players, Kel’el Ware and Mackenzie Mgbako, to Indiana’s roster before Hood-Schifino was even drafted.

Additionally, multiple high-caliber 2024 and 2025 recruits are on Indiana’s radar and vice versa.

Should Indiana and Woodson continue winning games, earning high NCAA Tournament seeds and sending Hoosiers to the NBA Draft, Hood-Schifino will be seen as the very start of it all in Bloomington.

Indiana just has to capitalize, and it’s doing a pretty good job already.

For the Los Angeles Lakers...

It’s no secret that Hood-Schifino isn’t exactly a finished product.

He doesn’t have the elite athleticism that leaves room to grow in the NBA for plenty of one-and-dones throughout college basketball. What he does have is incredible skill and a tremendous drive to get better.

We know Hood-Schifino will hold up his end of the bargain for his development. He likely could have helped himself by remaining in Bloomington for another year, but declaring when he did was still an apt move.

For the present, Hood-Schifino is good enough as a passer and has enough size as a defender to be able to hold his own in the league. He has a few things to work on to develop for the future.

Hood-Schifino’s college game was aided by the presence of Trayce Jackson-Davis, ever a threat in the paint or for a lob. He heaved up multiple NBA-caliber passes to Jackson-Davis throughout the season, flashing his potential.

On his own, he could be an absolute nightmare in the midrange (ask Purdue and Matt Painter) or if he gets under the rim (Ending the game against Purdue and scoring through a foul against Rutgers).

He needs to progress as a 3-point shooter. He, again, flashed potential with this against Ohio State, when he hit a 6-9 clip from the arc and took over the game in an 86-70 win. He hit 3-pointers at a 33.3% rate through the year though.

As demonstrated during that game and through his midrange, Hood-Schifino has a clean shot that bodes well for his development beyond the arc. He’ll primarily need to work on his catch-and-shoot abilities, as he was better as a pull-up shooter.

Aside from high-level athleticism, Hood-Schifino has all the tools and work ethic to find a role in the NBA. He can get on the floor now with what he has while developing for the future.

The LeBron era in Los Angeles, and the NBA as a whole, is drawing to a close sooner rather than later. Should Hood-Schifino develop, he’ll be a piece for the Lakers in a post-LeBron world as they look to find their way.