Still a year away from beginning his college basketball career, Jamal Mashburn Jr. is already preparing for life beyond the sport.
The son of UK great Jamal Mashburn was one of the elite recruits on hand for this week’s NBPA Top 100 Camp, the annual showcase for many of the top high school prospects in the country. When talking about his recruitment, Mashburn Jr.’s list of possible college destinations was a bit different from most of his peers at the camp.
“All of the Ivy League schools,” he said during one interview session, specifically mentioning Harvard and Penn in a later scrum with reporters.
“I just want a school that I would go to if I didn’t play basketball,” he said. “Having life after basketball is just as important to me as having life with basketball. So just picking a school that’s right for me, that’s going to be beneficial to me down the line and have longevity with me, that’s big.”
Mashburn Jr. isn’t quite the nationally touted prospect that his father was three decades ago, but he’s no slouch on the court, either.
Playing on the highly competitive Nike circuit for the first time this spring, the 6-foot guard from Miami is averaging 15.8 points per game and shooting 37.5 percent from three-point range. He’s the No. 88 overall player in the country, according to the 247Sports composite rankings for the class of 2020.
“I think he’s a true combo guard that wants to score,” 247Sports’ Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader. “And he’s wired up to get points. He can shoot it from all three levels. He’s a little undersized, but he can put up points in a hurry.”
Mashburn Jr. said he’s just as focused on his education as he is on his basketball career.
His father was obviously a star on the court, both at Kentucky and for the 11 NBA seasons that followed, and he’s since parlayed the money he made in the pros into an even more lucrative business career, with ownership stakes in several companies.
Mashburn Jr. said he has no first-hand memory of his father’s basketball days — he has seen plenty of YouTube clips featuring his All-Star dad — but he’s had a front-row seat for the professional success that followed. Hence the early focus on academics.
“He’s instilled that in me,” Mashburn Jr. said. “We’ve had a lot of conversations about how to be a good person, have good character, and also take the academics very seriously. I’m in the classroom, and I don’t slack off. I take it seriously, just as if I’m playing on the court.
“That’s just as important to me.”
The high school senior-to-be is already planning to major in business in college, and he’s getting an early education.
“My dad, on the business side of things, he’s teaching me a lot of things,” he said. “Franchising. How to run your own company. Just different things that you can learn from a guy who made more money outside of basketball than he did in the NBA.”
Mashburn has also been guiding his son’s recruitment.
When Rick Pitino was at Louisville, the younger Mashburn seemed destined to play for the Cardinals and the coach that oversaw his father’s college career. The Pitino and Mashburn families have remained close over the years, and Minnesota — where Rick’s son, Richard, is the head coach — was one of the schools the recruit listed prominently this week. Notre Dame, UConn, Dayton and Georgia were among the other non-Ivy League programs to get a mention from Mashburn Jr. during the interview sessions.
He said the new coaching staff at Louisville hasn’t reached out. Neither has Kentucky, and he didn’t seem to be expecting any recruiting contact from the Cardinals or the Wildcats, though he did say “it would be cool” to hear from John Calipari.
“I mean, they’re a great program,” he said. “SEC competition. Coach Calipari, he gets pros. He gets people in the NBA. Overall, it’s a great program.”
Mashburn Jr. said he plans to narrow his list following next month’s Nike Peach Jam event. Then he’ll look into some campus visits, and, hopefully, a college decision soon after.
His dad will make for some pretty good company on those trips, and he’ll be a valuable source of insight as Mashburn Jr. navigates the final stages of his recruitment.
“He’s been through this process, and he’s been through everything (in basketball). So he’s just basically being a guidance for me, as far as picking the right schools, knowing what’s fake and what’s real. And picking the best situation for me — not necessarily looking at the name of the school. But looking at, ‘What is the best possible situation for me to accomplish my goal.’”