Jeff Capel’s second season at Pitt is coming to an end and the enthusiasm that surrounded the Panthers program has dwindled with the team mired in a late season losing streak.
With there’s some disappointment with how the 2019-20 season has unfolded, the long-term look at the Pitt program is still bright with some of the incoming talent and Capel’s reputation of being able to land high-level players.
While he’s still a couple years from putting on that Panther uniform, the brightest star and biggest reason for optimism is 2022 4-star guard Jalen Hood-Schifino, who’s already given Pitt a verbal commitment.
Hood-Schifino is a 6’5″ point guard from Combine Academy in Charlotte, North Carolina and is rated as one of the Top 30 sophomores in the country.
Patrick O’Brien from Phenom Hoops Report has watched Hood-Schifino in-person on a number of occasions, most recently being on Thursday night at the Phenom Hoop State Tournament in North Carolina. Pittsburgh Sports Now caught up with O’Brien, who was glowing in his praise of Hood-Schifino and believes Pitt has landed a future star for their program.
“We’ve actually watched Jalen quite a few times whether it’s at our Phenom Hoops Exposure Camps or at AAU Tournaments with Team Charlotte,” said O’Brien. “Most recently, we’ve been watching him during the high school season with Combine Academy. With Jalen, he’s kind of a quiet type guy but he’s very poised. I think playing in the AAU circuits last year and now playing under Jeff McInnis, has really helped him.”
“Being a 6’5″, 6’6″ point guard, he’s a very unselfish, and I talked to him last night about this, a pass first point guard that wants to get his teammates involved. He said that he’s been compared to Jason Kidd with how he gets everyone involved. Now, he’s really showing an understanding for the game and that the game has really slowed down for him. He’s also now become an effective scorer that’s putting up 20, 30 point games, which he’s fully capable of doing if he needs to.”
Although he’s filling up the stat sheet on a nightly basis at Combine Academy, Hood-Schifino has remove to get better and improve his game which is bad news for his opponents and good news for the future of Pitt basketball.
“From the improvement that I’ve seen from last year to this year, he’s made such a jump in how he goes about his game and the confidence that he has in his game,” says O’Brien. “He now knows that he’s one of the top guards in the entire country for his class. At such a young age, it’s scary to think about that the more he works out and competes against this competition, that he’s going to get better and he has room to grow which is really scary.”
When Hood-Schifino arrives at Pitt, either in the Class of 2021 or the Class of 2022, the competition level will obviously be increasing with playing in the ACC but O’Brien says there’s no reason to think that Hood-Schifino won’t continue this dominance at the college level.
“Just knowing Jalen and his attitude and how he’s such a humble kid, I think he’ll still be that team player at Pitt. At 6’6″, he’s going to be a mismatch because it’s going to be tough for smaller guards to go up against him. He’s going to do whatever he has to get his teammates involved first but with his offensive scoring now developing by being able to hit the mid-range pull up, being efficient from 3-point range, he’s going to be able to average a double-double. He’s going to fill up the box score and will get it done for his team. It’s so exciting to project his future and I feel he’s going to be a big, big part of Pitt’s future and how they grow.”