Illinois Basketball: Illini extend offer to 2023 SF Jalen Hooks

The Illinois basketball program continues to examine its future, making an early push for 2023’s Jalen Hooks.

Hooks is an emerging 2023 prospect who currently hails from Indianapolis, Indiana, and attends Crispus Attucks High School as a three-star recruit.  The Illini offered the talented small-forward, as he puts together a 6-foot-5, 180-pound frame for the position.

On Wednesday afternoon, Hooks took to Twitter to make the news official, as he is quickly gaining ground from some of the nation’s best programs. Including Illinois, Indiana and Michigan State have expressed interest along with Kansas and Butler, to name a few.

Hooks is currently rated as the No. 8 small-forward for his class and comes in as the No. 3 player from the Hoosier State.

As for Hooks’ squad, the Tigers have enjoyed sustained success over the past few seasons. In 2019, the team finished 19-6 and made it to the second round of the Indiana state playoffs before losing to Lawrence North in a close three-point nail-bitter, 76-73. Entering the match-up, the Tigers had won three of their last five games but were unable to find a consistent rhythm come tournament time.

The high school sports schedules have proceeded as planned in Indiana, and therefore, the 2020 boys’ basketball season is already in full swing. At press time, the Tigers currently sit at 9-1, riding a three-game win streak. The team’s most recent victory came in a December 29 non-conference 30-point road win against a one-win Indianapolis Shortridge squad, 89-59.

Its next game is scheduled for January 2, as a rematch of the postseason loss from a year ago will be played once again. Lawrence North has an unblemished 6-0 mark ahead of the non-conference tilt, which the Tigers will be looking to spoil with a win.

Hooks has a clear message to fans on what they should expect from him at the next level, regardless of which school he ends up choosing.

“Lots of playmaking and facilitating. I can shoot it, handle and defend,” Hooks explained in an interview with Rivals. “I’ve still got a post up. I’m just working on tightening everything up because nobody’s perfect so I’m just constantly working on fixing mental mistakes.”

What would a Jalen Hooks commitment mean for Illinois?

Brad Underwood has been prone to target players with significant height advantages, and Hooks has shown the ability to present that with his naturally-gifted floor abilities on both ends.

Even during the pandemic, Hooks found a way to get open gym time on the AAU circuit, which can be viewed in the video below.

Because Hooks has two more years to develop, don’t be surprised when more schools come calling in the near future. The Midwest seems to remain his focus, and it will be interesting to watch how his recruiting spree progresses throughout the next few years.

Illini Nation should be excited for the program’s future, as the New Year is finally approaching.