Jalen Hood-Schifino and Trayce Jackson-Davis both selected in the draft

The 2023 NBA draft was a huge moment for IU men’s basketball, something that hasn’t happened in a long time. The last time an IU player was drafted was Romeo Langford in 2019. He was selected at No. 14 overall.

The last time two IU players were selected in the same draft was in 2017, with OG Anunoby and Thomas Bryant. Anunoby was selected at No. 23 overall and Bryant at No. 42. This year’s draft reset those ‘last times.’ This year, Jalen Hood-Schifino and Trayce Jackson-Davis were both selected in the same draft, with Hood-Schifino going No. 17 to the Lakers and Jackson-Davis at No. 57 to Golden State. Having two players selected in the same draft is a major positive development for IU, a program that has had a tough past few years.

This year’s draft was a validation of coach Mike Woodson’s ability to help players reach the professional ranks. But it’s not just that. Woodson helped two players at drastically different points in their college careers to get to the next level.

This is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Hood-Schifino was a highly sought-after recruit with a lot of buzz surrounding him. However, there were times where some experts didn’t see him as a top prospect for the 2023 draft. Nevertheless, his stock rose. He delivered on multiple occasions, including a 35-point performance on the road against Purdue. As a result, he was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year.


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It wouldn’t be fair to attribute all of Hood-Schifino’s success solely to Woodson. After all, there were reasons why he was such a big-time recruit. However, a season-ending injury to Xavier Johnson in December thrust Hood-Schifino into a more prominent role, providing him with more opportunities to showcase his skills. Hood-Schifino’s athletic abilities and intangibles are truly impressive. But there are still areas where he could improve, such as consistent three-point shooting. Regardless, Woodson deserves credit for Hood-Schifino’s development.

Jackson-Davis is a different story. Unlike Hood-Schifino, he wasn’t recruited in high school by Woodson. Unlike Hood-Schifino, he was already a well-established college player before working with Woodson. In his second season playing under Archie Miller, Jackson-Davis averaged 19.1 points and nine rebounds per game. Yet, Woodson managed to help Jackson-Davis improve, as evident in his play over two seasons. Jackson-Davis seemed to play with a better motor, addressing a criticism of his earlier in his career. Last season, Jackson-Davis averaged career highs in points, rebounds, assists, and blocks per game.

When Woodson was hired to lead the program back in 2021, concerns didn’t involve his coaching ability. His experience coaching players such as Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith in the NBA was a testament to what he could bring to the team. But now, with Hood-Schifino and Jackson-Davis, he’s also shown that he has the power to transform college players into professionals. Why is this so important? It’s because he’s done it with players who have different backgrounds and experiences. This has promising implications for the future of the program.

First, high school recruiting. Woodson has demonstrated his ability to help young talent transition from college to the pros. Hood-Schifino is a perfect example. Woodson could convince high school prospects that IU is the best place for them to pursue their dreams of reaching the NBA. Second, portal transfer recruiting. Woodson helped Jackson-Davis, an already established college player, elevate his game. Although Jackson-Davis didn’t come from the transfer portal, his relationship with Woodson developed in parallel. This suggests that there are undiscovered players out there, people like Jackson-Davis who can take their game to the next level and put themselves in a better position when it’s time to get drafted.

Why do all these matters? It’s because the current state of college basketball demands a mix of youth and experience. A roster filled with high school talents can be risky, and you don’t want a squad with only veterans either. The perfect team should have a blend of young prospects and seasoned veterans.

If done correctly – and it’s easier said than done – the players and the whole program will benefit. Woodson hasn’t achieved this goal yet, but his work with Hood-Schifino and Jackson-Davis has provided a reason to be optimistic about the future.

All in all, the 2023 NBA draft was a critical moment for IU men’s basketball. It proved that Woodson has what it takes to help players reach the professional level. Hood-Schifino and Jackson-Davis are great examples of this.

These players came from different backgrounds, but they both benefited immensely from Woodson’s expertise. High school and portal transfers should definitely consider IU as a destination where they can thrive and reach their potential. It’s not just these two players either; with the right blend of youth and experience, this program has a very bright future ahead!


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