After a year-plus of unusual recruiting, there are going to be plenty of new, high-talent prospects that surface this summer. One name you should learn right now is Jalen Hooks.
A 6-foot-7, 206-pound small forward from the class of 2023, Hooks plays his high school ball at Crispus Attucks in Indianapolis, IN, and is rated as a four-star prospect by 247 Sports and the 55th best overall player from his age group. With in-person recruiting opening back up on June 1, the summer schedule for recruits across the country is going to be loaded. Hooks is in that same boat, as June will be a busy one for the budding talent.
Here is the current unofficial visit schedule for Hooks this month.
Butler: June 3
Xavier: June 4
Marquette: June 10
Illinois: June 14
Missouri: June 16
Cincinnati: June 21
You probably noticed that a trip to Lexington is not included, but don’t worry, it’s in the works. Hooks told KSR on Tuesday that he has been in communication with Kentucky’s new assistant coach, Ron “Chin” Coleman, and that an unofficial visit to UK will happen sometime this summer. According to Hooks, Kentucky will be the first school added to his already busy schedule.
But let’s dive a little bit deeper into Hooks’ background. Like most kids in his position, he essentially lost an entire year of recruitment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite that, he’s still viewed as one of the better players in his class. Hooks has been on Coach Coleman’s radar since the latter was still employed at Illinois. It was actually former Kentucky assistant Tony Barbee (now the head coach at Central Michigan) who initially facilitated the interest from Kentucky, but it died down until Coleman switched jobs and became a Wildcat.
“Over the summer, my mentor ran into Tony Barbee at a barbeque actually,” Hooks told KSR on Tuesday. “He sent [Barbee] my film and [Barbee] said he had sent it over to a guy who watches film at Kentucky and they like what they saw. I didn’t hear much from them and then Coach Chin, he got over there the last month or two, and he told them to tune into some games, but I’m coming back from an injury so they tuned into the game to watch it and they didn’t see me. Now I’ve just been talking to them about getting down there.”
Hooks recently suffered both a high ankle sprain and a broken nose within two weeks of each other. He injured his nose first, followed by an incident in practice two weeks later that caused the high ankle sprain. Hooks told KSR that his nose has healed, but that he’s only about 90 percent healthy from the ankle injury and that this week was just his second week back on the hardwood.
But when he is on the floor, Hooks brings a wide range of skills to both ends of the court.
“I like to stay as versatile as possible,” Hooks said about his game. “So every time I go to the gym I make sure I’m strong enough to bang and I make sure I’m fast enough to be able to guard a guard… I think if a team needs a defender, I’m here. I’m pretty good in the open court, I can definitely score from all three levels. I’m a pass-first player actually, I’m still working on it because sometimes I’m a little bit too unselfish.”
He’s slowly getting back to full health and will hopefully have a trip planned to Kentucky by the time he does. Hooks said he hasn’t talked with Coleman as much since Coleman joined the Kentucky staff, but he added that the two intend on speaking at some point this week. They had been in constant communication when Coleman was at Illinois, and the Fighting Illini initially offered him back in December of 2020.
“I picked up my Illinois offer in December,” Hooks added. “I think I met Coach Coleman probably November-ish and I was probably talking to him two or three times a week back in the season. As the season went on, I stuck with it, I talked with him probably two times a week.”
And of course, Coleman is a big fan of what he sees in Hooks.
“He likes my versatility and he’s honestly probably the first person to just come out and say he likes everything about my game,” Hooks said about Coleman. “He wanted me at Illinois bad and I talked to him a couple days ago and he let me know that they’re gonna come the same way at Kentucky.”
Even without Coleman on staff, Illinois is still recruiting Hooks heavily. The rising high school junior listed Marquette, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Cincinnati, Memphis, and the home-state Indiana Hoosiers as programs after him the hardest right now. There are plenty of others, though. Hooks explained that his idea for June is more about visiting schools that are closer to home and that he’ll go further outside the surrounding area once the summer rolls on. He mentioned LSU as a school he hopes to visit in August.
As of right now, Hooks holds offers from Illinois, Georgia, Tulane, IUPUI, LSU, Xavier, and DePaul.
Kentucky is one of three programs that Hooks is planning to add to his upcoming slate of visits, along with Indiana and Purdue. The allure of having Mike Woodson as the new head coach of the Hoosiers is enticing to him, no doubt, and Hooks added that his father has already spoken with Coach Woodson, although there hasn’t been much communication with IU outside of that.
This summer will present the perfect opportunity for Hooks to jump even higher in the rankings, which will hopefully draw more attention from the likes of Kentucky, Kansas, and other big-name programs as he continues to improve his game.
“Since these are going to be my first games back since April, I’m just going to show the rest of the colleges what I can do because I’m sure there are still some questions from some coaches that didn’t get to see me during the school ball season,” Hooks said. “Most of the schools haven’t gotten to see me since my freshman year so I’ll get to show them how much I’ve grown since then.”
Hooks was recently invited to one of the top camps of the year in the 2021 Pangos All-America Camp, which will meet in Las Vegas next weekend. The event is invite-only and includes 120 of the best high school hoopers from across the country, regardless of how old they are. KSR will be there to keep you up to speed, including some live, in-person scouting on Hooks.
Check out his game below. Hooks played alongside North Laurel’s Reed Sheppard on the AAU circuit last summer.