Growing up as a big Kobe Bryant fan, Jalen Hood-Schifino offers his honest feelings on the Lakers selecting him with the 17th pick in the 2023 NBA Draft

The inspirational story of Jalen Hood-Schifino, a starry-eyed “Black Mamba’s” fan who became a sensational Lakers draft pick, is one that defies the odds. Jalen Hood-Schifino claims he was a Kobe Bryant admirer growing up. It is even more unusual for a player of this caliber to be selected by the team he supported growing up or the side that featured a player he admired.

Jalen Hood-Schifino, a guard from Indiana University, was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday as the number 17 overall choice in the 2023 NBA Draft. While he does have some faults, which some people don’t like, his strengths—such as his passing, defensive versatility, and overall midrange game—make him an ever-so-intriguing pick.

Jalen Hood-Schifino shares his 2023 NBA Draft experience

“My freshman season was nothing short of amazing,” Hood-Schifino told ESPN when he declared for the draft. “My coaches kept their word by having the ultimate trust in me as a freshman.” In the one-and-done era, Hood-Schifino is only the fourth Indiana player to get picked after his freshman season, making him a unique case in the history of his program.

He is a member of the same class as Romeo Langford, Eric Gordon, and Noah Vonleh. If, as anticipated, Trayce Jackson-Davis is picked as well on Thursday night, this will be the first draft since 2017 in which multiple Hoosiers have been selected. The recent team success and personal development of these two players have given Indiana more recruiting clout.

Jalen Hood-Schifino discusses his role, and defense with the Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers selected Indiana’s Jalen Hood-Schifino at No. 17 in the NBA Draft on Thursday night, thus, making him the state’s highest selection since Romeo “The Dog House” Langford went No. 14 in 2019. He is now only IU’s second selection since 2017.

In his lone season of college, Hood-Schifino, a rapidly developing prospect who exceeded expectations last winter en route to winning Big Ten Freshman of the Year, assisted in leading the Hoosiers to the round of 32 of the NCAA tournament.

After Xavier Johnson fractured his foot and was given more responsibility, Hood-Schifino averaged 4.1 rebounds, 13.5 points, and 3.7 assists per game. Hood-Schifino also discussed how he was a challenging cover due to his proficiency in ball-screen actions, his sophisticated mid-range offensive game, and his propensity for scoring in large quantities.

In addition, they propelled him up the NBA draft boards, which led him to decide in late March to abandon the rest of his eligibility and declare for the draft.

Jalen Hood-Schifino has Kobe Bryant tattooed on him 

He admitted that he has always been an admirer of the late great Kobe Bryant when the Lakers selected him in the draft. Jalen Hood-Schifino knew he would wear a green suit the moment he decided to pursue the NBA draft following his freshman year at Indiana.

He shrugged as he strolled behind the scenes at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, saying, “Love Color.” That slightly contrasted with his golden Lakers cap, which was his first souvenir from his new job. Even wearing Celtics colors, there was no denying his happiness about joining the Lakers as their newest player. He has a tattoo of “The 8th Wonder Of The World” Kobe Bryant on his arm.

Jalen Hood-Schifino

“It’s honestly really crazy and kind of hard to say how I feel because growing up I was a big Kobe fan. I was always watching his videos, watching the Lakers,” he stated. “For me to get drafted by the Lakers is kind of surreal and kind of crazy.”

In the grand tapestry of sports narratives, Jalen Hood-Schifino and his story serve as a poignant reminder that the legacy of legends like Kobe Bryant extends far beyond their time on the court.

Kushal Shinde

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