Jamal Mashburn Jr Didn’t Have to “Weed Out All The BS” With Richard Pitino

If University of Minnesota Athletic Director, Mark Coyle, called me tomorrow (lol, yeah right) and told me that, until the COVID-19 pandemic struck, he was about to fire Richard Pitino… you wouldn’t see shock on my face. I’ve called for his coaching head many times… see HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Pitino was about to miss the NCAA Tournament for the 5th time in 7 years. The Gophers entered the Big Ten Tournament with his job status up in the air. After a first-round victory over Northwestern, the tournament was was shut down.

Meet Jamal Mashburn Jr

I’ve heard the same type of argument, regarding Pitino’s highest-touted 2020 recruit, Jamal Mashburn Jr. Some would argue, Jamal Jr helped save Richard’s job. The combo guard from Miami FL is only here because Richard Pitino is here.

He talked about that during a recent interview with Alex Karamanos, a young basketball recruiting contenter, on his podcast: “Hoops With Us”. Jamal Jr specifically caught my ears at the 9-minute mark, when asked why he chose the University of Minnesota.

This entire interview was pretty good. It was fun to hear three teammates chat together. Watching high schoolers give uncut interviews is often cringeworthy and it’s no different during moments here, either.

I wrote this blog, though, because of Jamal’s answer when asked about why he chose Minnesota. The more you learn about college athletics, the more you realize that these DI athletes choose schools, based on coaches. That’s why we are so lucky here in Minnesota, on the football side of things.

But Mashburn’s answer to that question, highlights my favorite part of Richard Pitino’s personality. It also hits on why I think Pitino could be a hidden gem in this new era of the “transfer athlete”.

“One of the things that was important to me was trust… just weeding out all the BS. Like, a lot of coaches like to, you know, say things that players want to hear, um.. but Coach Pitino, he didn’t do that.”

Jamal Mashburn Jr – Hoops With Us Podcast

Pitino/Mashburn Long-Term Relationship

If your head has been buried in the sand for the last 30 years OR you are a gen-z (so you’ve never heard of him), Jamal Jr is the son of Jamal Mashburn. Mashburn Sr is a former NBA All-Star and University of Kentucky basketball legend, who was coached at Kentucky, by Richard’s dad, Rick Pitino.

Mashburn Jr talks about the long relationship he and Richard have had, playing into his Minnesota decision, as well. Jamal Sr knows how important trust and honesty is, in high-level college basketball. Because of that, his kid has a leg up on many his age. 

While a lot of kids are worried about who is giving them the most attention on and off social media, the younger Mashburn has probably been told from a very young age, how little that matters. He’s mature beyond his years, in the college basketball game… Just like Richard.

What You See is What You Get With Richard

The reason Jamal Jr likes Richard Pitino so much, is the same reason many of the best Minnesota high school athletes don’t. He isn’t out to stroke anyone’s ego, even if that means losing recruits. He isn’t going to “BS” anyone, as Mashburn Jr puts it, or sit in the stands of a different MN target every night of the week.

Richard is a family man. He doesn’t want to be like his dad, who spent ridiculous hours with work, in that regard. Pitino has talked about his dad’s love for coaching, often outweighing his love to be a father. Unfortunately, that attitude often hurts Richard, when the blue bloods come into town to swipe Minnesota’s best high school basketball players.

Richard Pitino has talked about how opening up the transfer portal, in coming years, makes him nervous. To the contrary, I’ve always seen it as a positive for him. The coaches who are willing to “BS” kids into commitments, are the same ones that will lose kids to the transfer portal, as Sophomores and Juniors.

Who will be there to catch them when they fall out of the portal….? That same honest, down to earth Twitter dad, we all love (until he misses the NCAA Tournament again). The transfer portal is stacked with kids who are done with the bullshit, which is why they are transferring.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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