With their 17th and 40th pick in the NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers acquired guard Jalen Hood-Schifino and forward Maxwell Lewis. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka noted how the scouting staff ranked the two players high in the first round.
“Drafting high-character kids that the Lakers means so much to is part of what we do,” Pelinka said. “Players that care that much about playing for this franchise is big to us.”
Hood-Schifino explained to Pelinka and head coach Darvin Ham that he grew up a fan of Lakers icon Kobe Bryant and how he adopted the Mamba Mentality early in his life. Lewis comes from a family of Lakers fans; his father is an Inglewood native.
“When I was younger, I watched him from a lens of seeing how talented he is on the court,” Hood-Schifino said. “As I got older and I started to understand what he stood for and what the Mamba Mentality, that’s kind of what I really was attracted to Kobe as far as his mindset.
Both players noted how it has been a surreal experience and how they are excited about learning from the veteran players on the squad.
“Just playing with LeBron James, literally all my friends, that’s all they talk about,” Lewis said. “It’s surreal, just playing with those big-time veterans that can coach me.”
Hood-Schifino played one year with the Indiana Hoosiers men’s basketball team; he averaged 13.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Hood-Schifino is fourth in program history for total freshman assists in a season with 117. His efforts would get him Big 10 Freshman of the Year.
Hood-Schifino noted how his personality and work ethic could have been an attractive quality in the Draft process.
“I was gonna bring it every day,” Hood-Schifino said. “High-character kid, I want to learn, I’m a sponge.”
Lewis played two seasons at Pepperdine. As a sophomore, his 17.1 points per game led the teams’ offense. He shot at 46.8 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from the three-point line. Lewis scored a career-high of 30 points twice and had 13 games where he scored over 20 points.
Lewis is the sixth Wave to be selected in the first two rounds of the NBA Draft.
“A lot of people don’t get drafted from Pepperdine, a mid-major school,” Lewis said. “I really want to put on for the mid-major schools that anyone can do it no matter what level you’re at as long as you just work.”
Hood-Schifino and Lewis has since started practicing for Summer League. Ham noted how the rookies should be working on how to be professional athletes and improving on parts of their game that can help the team.
“As a young player, the harder you play, the harder you compete particularly on the defensive end, usually those guys are the ones that get the minutes early,” Ham said. “The offense will catch up to what they’re doing but first, they have to establish a competitive tone.”