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Former Indiana basketball guard Jalen Hood-Schifino discusses his first interaction with Lakers teammate Lebron James



Jun 22, 2023; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Jalen Hood-Schifino is greeted by NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected seventeenth by the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft at Barclays Arena. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Former Indiana basketball guard Jalen Hood-Schifino is just less than a month away from getting his NBA career off and running. As the season approaches closer and closer, now is the time NBA teams start to bring their guys together to build chemistry and prepare for the upcoming season.

Hood-Schifino was drafted to arguably the most historic NBA organization in the history of the sport — The Los Angeles Lakers — in the first round with No. 17 overall pick. The Lakers organization has rostered all-time greats such as Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, among many, many others.

One of the NBA legends that has been seen in a purple and gold jersey just so happens to be the teammate of Jalen Hood-Schifino in his rookie season — Lebron James.

Even though it was a small interaction, it was only just recently that Hood-Schifino was able to meet his future NBA Hall of Fame teammate for the first time.

“Yeah, I met him. It was recently, like a couple weeks ago. We were working out. He worked out before me,” Hood-Schifino said when speaking to The Athletic Writer Jovan Buha. “I was working out right after him, I got on the court and he just came up to me and said, ‘Hi.’ It was the first time meeting each other, so he dapped me up, asked how I was doing and everything, and that was pretty much it really.”

More: With his ‘signature skill’ and approach to the game, Jalen Hood-Schifino has unlimited upside heading into his NBA rookie season

It has been well documented that Jalen Hood-Schifino being drafted by the Lakers was a huge dream of his as he grew up a Kobe Bryant and Lakers fans. As a Kobe Bryant fan, Jalen Hood-Schifino adopted the ‘Mamba Mentality’ early on in his basketball career…which ultimately led him into achieving his dream of playing for the NBA, for his dream organization.

With him playing for his dream NBA team, plus the need of younger guys to fill the void of when the LeBron James era comes to an end in LA, it is honestly a perfect situation for former Indiana basketball guard.

“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,” Hood-Schifino said post-selection. “For me to get drafted by the Lakers is kind of surreal and kind of crazy.”

“His Mamba Mentality is something that he’s lived by. It’s a code he’s lived by his whole life,” Pelinka added. “You could tell he just didn’t throw that out because he was at a Lakers interview. It felt like it was from his heart and genuine. He has a very, very serious approach to the game.”

Hood-Schifino is in line for a four-year contract worth up to $17.9 million, according to the rookie salary scale. His contract includes $3.7 million in year one, with the assumption he signs for 120 percent of the standard rookie scale, which according to Hoops Rumors ‘virtually every first-rounder does’.

For the Los Angeles Lakers, Hood-Schifino averaged 13.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.3 steals per game in six appearances in the Sacramento and Las Vegas. He shot 34.0% (32-of-94) from the floor, 21.7% (5-of-23) from the 3-point line, and 56.5% (13-of-23) from the free throw line.

SEE ALSO: ‘I want to win now’: Mike Woodson is done accepting mediocracy. He’s ready to take Indiana basketball to new heights.

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Kyler Staley is a Basketball Recruiting Analyst for Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Kyler has been in the basketball recruiting industry since 2019 and is a credentialed media member. He has covered Indiana since 2021 while continuing to also work for Prep Hoops Indiana. He has previously worked for Rivals.