Jalen Hood-Schifino reveals that his ‘plant-forward diet’ was one of reasons Lakers drafted him

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read

The diet of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Jalen Hood-Schifino reportedly was one of the reasons why the team drafted him with the No. 17 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.

“When Lakers rookie Jalen Hood-Schifino was a sophomore at Combine Academy in Lincolnton, N.C., he made what he deemed to be an important decision for both his health and basketball future: He changed his diet,” The Athletic’s Jovan Buha wrote.

“The then-16-year-old embraced a ‘plant-forward’ diet, eliminating most animal-based products from his daily food intake. Unlike with vegan and vegetarian diets, Hood-Schifino still eats certain animal-based foods, including fish.

“Hood-Schifino’s maturity, preparation and discipline – and yes, his diet – were traits the Lakers valued and part of why they selected him with the No. 17 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.”

It’s interesting that the Lakers valued Hood-Schifino’s diet, but it could be something that keeps him healthy throughout his NBA career.

Hood-Schifino, who played collegiately at Indiana University, was the Big Ten Rookie of the Year in his lone season with the Hoosiers, averaging 13.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game while shooting 41.7 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc.

He should provide the Lakers with some depth in their rotation at the guard position in the 2023-24 season, and he could earn a role if he beats out some other players for minutes.

The Lakers brought back guard Austin Reaves, guard D’Angelo Russell and forward Rui Hachimura in free agency this offseason while also adding other pieces to the roster.

Los Angeles signed big men Christian Wood and Jaxson Hayes to boost its frontcourt depth, and it added wing Cam Reddish, forward Taurean Prince and guard Gabe Vincent as well.

There may not be a direct path to minutes for Hood-Schifino, but the Lakers clearly believe in his potential since they drafted him in the first round. Los Angeles could have used the No. 17 pick to make a trade this offseason, but it seems like the team wants to keep the former Hoosier around.

“Really carries himself as a pro,” Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka said on draft night about Hood-Schifino. “He was just ahead of his time in terms of his diet, training. It shows with his physique, his body. He definitely has Lakers DNA.”

With a plant-based diet, Hood-Schifino certainly made himself stand out from others in the 2023 draft class. It’s possible the Lakers could consider adding more players with the same type of diet in the future if it’s something they truly value.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.