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‘I’m going to bring it every day’: Lifelong dream turns reality for Jalen Hood-Schifino after being drafted by Los Angeles Lakers



Getting selected by the Los Angeles Lakers was a lifelong dream for Jalen Hood-Schifino, now the next step in his journey begins. (Los Angeles Lakers)

‘F.I.N.O’. That is the mindset of former Indiana basketball guard Jalen Hood-Schifino. It’s his brand and an acronym that stands for ‘Failure Is No Option’. On Thursday night, that everyday mindset became a major driver in Hood-Schifino being drafted in the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft.

Hood-Schifino was selected No. 17 overall by the Los Angeles Lakers — becoming the first IU player since 2019 to be taken in the first round.

Not only is Hood-Schifino a good match for what the Lakers need on the floor, it’s that mindset that set him apart in pre-draft meetings, workouts and discussions among the Lakers front office.

It was also a few conversations with IU head coach Mike Woodson that solidified the pick.

“I had a couple conversations with Mike Woodson as part of the process, he’s an incredible coach,” Lakers GM Rob Pelinka said. “Mike said he’s never really been around a 19-year-old that approached the game and just life and his body like Jalen Hood-Schifino. He said he was incredibly focused on his nutrition. He was incredibly disciplined with his lifting and taking care of his body. Getting in his extra work on the court. He said, in his opinion, he’s figured out how to be a pro before he’s a pro.

“When Jalen came in here for his workout, I remember sitting upstairs with Coach Ham and myself and Jesse Buss from our scouting department just having lunch upstairs, and it was really clear to us right away that Jalen had unbelievable composure, a deep knowledge of the game…”

That mindset started at a young age when watching his favorite player. That player? Kobe Bryant.

From on the court skills to his mindset and approach off of the floor, Hood-Schifino took bits of what Bryant did and molded that into his game and life. So, to hear his name called on Thursday by the organization that Bryant played his entire career for, it was a moment of a lot of emotions.

“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.

“I’m not really a person who gets too high or too low. Today, my emotions were like a roller coaster So it was everywhere. To finally get that call and hear my name called, it was kind of like a relief. But yeah, like I said, I was super happy, super excited. It was just a great moment.”

Pelinka saw that ‘Mamba Mentality’ and knew it was genuine.

“His Mamba Mentality is something that he’s lived by. It’s a code he’s lived by his whole life,” Pelinka said. “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.”

Jalen Hood-Schifino, who was Big Ten Freshman of the Year, joins the Lakers looking to make an immediate impact. For the Lakers, they need him to. With a small championship window still left, the Hood-Schifino addition is another piece to the roster that was missing a season ago.

His ability to play both on and off of the ball and create scoring for himself is appealing. Especially his ability to play in the pick-and-roll, something Indiana utilized at will last year.

“I think really just my approach. I’m a player who I’m going to bring it every day, work hard and I think I check a lot of boxes. Obviously, I’m a big guard, size, can score from all three levels, unselfish, get my teammates involved and then I can also really guard, guard multiple positions,” Hood-Schifino added. “Overall, I think I’m a really good player and an even better person.”

While no rookie season is the same across the league, Jalen Hood-Schifino understands his role and knows what he can control.

Again, F.I.N.O doesn’t just go away now that he made it to the highest level of basketball. Instead, it’s what will continue to drive him every single day.

“(I’m) going to bring it every day, push the people around me. Just someone that is going to work hard,” Hood-Schifino said. “… For me to get drafted there, I’m going to bring it every day, like I said, try to impact as much as I can and learn from the guys that are there, especially for one of the all-time greats, LeBron James, and AD and the rest of the guys. It’s going to be great.”

SEE ALSO: ‘The sky is the limit’: Mike Woodson comments on Indiana basketball selections in 2023 NBA Draft

Alec Lasley is the owner of Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Alec has covered Indiana for six years and is a credentialed media member. He has previously worked for both Rivals and 247Sports.