'I'm a winner': Jalen Hood-Schifino, one of the nation's elite guards, picks IU basketball

By Dustin Dopirak
The Herald-Times

Mike Woodson has been recruiting for all of five months and has already landed his second five-star prospect and the centerpiece of his first full recruiting class. 

Jalen Hood-Schifino, a 6-5, 210-pound combo guard from national powerhouse Monteverde Academy in Florida, announced on CBS Sports HQ he chose Indiana over Tennessee, his other finalist. The No. 23-rated player in the 2022 class, according to the 247sports composite rankings, Hood-Schifino also considered Florida, Memphis and Texas before eliminating them last week. He had previously committed to Pittsburgh in December of 2019 before de-committing in July of 2020. He had 20 total offers, including Connecticut, Florida State, Illinois, Kansas, Miami and Seton Hall. 

"I think I'm a big playmaking guard. I can also defend," Hood-Schifino told CBS Sports HQ of his playing style. 

"I just want to bring the program back on track," he added. "Indiana fans, you're going to be getting a winner. Players are going to come in every day and work hard.

"I'm a winner. I'm gonna work hard every day." 

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Hood-Schifino joins Tamar Bates as five-star guards recruited since Woodson was hired in late March to replace the fired Archie Miller. If Hood-Schifino remains ranked in the top 30 through the end of his senior season, that would give Indiana at least one top 30 player in each of the past five classes: Romeo Langford (No. 7 in 2018), Trayce Jackson-Davis (No. 30 in 2019) and Khristian Lander (No. 27 in 2020) Bates (No. 30 in 2021). 

Hood-Schifino pointed to Woodson's NBA experience as a big draw to Bloomington.

“He’s been at the highest level," Hood-Schifino said. "That’s where I want to go. I know when I go there, he’s going to push me every day. I know the development is going to be great.” 

The Hoosiers already had a pair of perimeter players committed in the 2022 class in Kaleb Banks, a 6-8 wing from Fayetteville, Ga., and C.J. Gunn, a 6-5 shooting guard from Lawrence. Hood-Schifino gives them a true lead guard who can run the point or play off the ball and can score at all three levels. The Hoosiers are still targeting four-star 6-9 power forward Noah Clowney from South Carolina, who has a visit scheduled. A commitment from him, and Woodson could be looking at a top-10 class. 

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The backcourt could be crowded by the time Hood-Schifino arrives with Gunn and Bates coming in and point guards Xavier Johnson, Rob Phinisee and Lander and wings Banks, Parker Stewart, Anthony Leal, Trey Galloway and Miller Kopp all having eligibility remaining beyond this year, but with his skill set, he should still make an immediate impact. 

Jalen Hood-Schifino

“He has great size, feel for the game, great IQ,” said Norton Hurd IV, who coached Hood-Schifino this summer for Team Thad on the Under Armour circuit. “He works so hard, man. He’s getting to the point that at the high school level he doesn’t have many weaknesses.” 

He comes from a family of athletes. His mother Angel Schifino and uncles Drew and Jake Schifino were all star basketball players at Penn Hills High School in the Pittsburgh suburbs. Angel played Division II basketball at Lock Haven, Drew played for West Virginia and then professionally overseas. Jake played college football at Akron and then spent two years in the NFL as a wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans. 

Hood-Schifino grew up in Penn Hills and left for Charlotte, N.C. at age 7, returned to Pittsburgh two years later, then moved back to North Carolina as a teenager. He averaged 15.6 points and 6.0 assists per game for Combine Academy in Charlotte as a sophomore before going to Monteverde for his junior year where he was part of a team that won the GEICO National Tournament and finished 24-1. 

He only got so much time to shine on a team that had five top-70 players in the 2021 class, but he is one of four top-25 players in the 2022 class on this year’s roster. With Kentucky-bound point guard Skyy Clark out with an ACL tear suffered in July, Hood-Schifino might have to start the season at point guard, which could give IU a sense of how well he could handle the position at the next level. 

“He’ll have a lead role at Monteverde this year and you’ll see everything skyrocket,” Hurd said. “He’s really a point guard at heart. Sometimes he can get lost in the shuffle because he’s so big and so tall and people are surprised how well he can do. His decision-making, his ball-handling, his ability to get the ball into the paint is pretty good. His head is always up. He’s always thinking a play ahead. He’s just going to make the right basketball play most of the time. That’s what makes him good at that position.” 

His size and athleticism give him the ability to get to the rim at will, he can score in the midrange, and he’s become a much better 3-point shooter in recent seasons as well. 

“He got in the gym and worked his butt off,” Hurd said. “You leave Jalen Hood-Schifino open if you want to, that’s all I’m gonna tell you man. He’s just a winner.” 

And he can defend as well. Team Thad was founded by former Pacers forward Thaddeus Young, who made his name on defense, and Hurd considers Hood-Schifino one of the better defenders he’s worked with. 

“At AAU he can guard 1 through 4 most of the time,” Hurd said. “He’s so strong and big. He can move his feet, get up in you. Most of the things you ask him to do, he can do. That’s just part of his nature. I ask my guards to do a lot and he always accepts the challenge. Whoever gets him is getting something special.”

Follow Herald-Times IU Insider Dustin Dopirak on Twitter at @DustinDopirak or email him at DDopirak@gannett.com.