What Jamal Mashburn Jr Brings to Richard Pitino and the Gophers

Gophers men’s basketball signee Jamal Mashburn Jr. poses for a photo during a visit to Williams Arena. (Courtesy of Gophers Athletics)

Let’s take a look at what the 2020 Gophers men’s basketball commitments will bring to Minnesota (because what else is there to do right now). I recently examined Turkish guard, David Mutaf. The second will be 6’0” combo guard, Jamal Mashburn Jr., out of Brewster Academy (NH).

Mashburn Jr., the son of former NBA and University of Kentucky forward Jamal Mashburn, signed his letter of intent on November 13, 2019. The 4-star guard committed to the Gophers over Wake Forest, Cal, and Auburn. The elder Mashburn played for Rick Pitino, and it’s no accident that his kid ended up with Richard.

To examine Mashburn Jr., I watched his game vs Mt. Zion Prep. He’s playing for Brewster Academy, which was loaded with Division-1 talent. Here’s what I saw and took away:

First Half

In the first half Mashburn Jr. played pretty well overall. For the first five minutes he didn’t score, outside of a couple free throws, but he did show off other strengths of his game. Don’t get it twisted, Mashburn Jr is a score-first point guard, but he displayed his underrated passing skills early on, in this game. 

In this clip below (taken from the video embedded above), he gets the ball at the top of the key, drives the lane to suck in three defenders, and then kicks the ball out to the weak-side corner for an open three. Beautiful.


Another thing he displayed in the first five minutes — and really the whole game — was his aggressiveness. Multiple times, he picked the other team up full-court and made them work. He also wasn’t afraid to drive the lane, although he was maybe a little too aggressive at times.


Probably the foremost thing Gophers fans want to see out of Mashburn Jr., however, is his shooting. And believe me, he displayed that too.

After missing his first two triples, he found net on his third… which quickly became the ongoing trend, as the game went on.

After receiving a pass from his teammate, Mashburn Jr. showed off his catch-and-shoot ability, as he sank the three to raise Brewster Academy’s lead to 11 points. For a player as small as Jamal Jr, it’s important to have a high release point on your shot, so you can still create space and get shots up around taller players. Unsurprisingly, he has just that.


He also knocked down this beautiful pull-up jumper, to raise his point total to 7, in the first half. Take a look at the separation he created with his rip-through, something I noticed he uses quite a bit.


His defense is not to be forgotten about, however. He consistently stayed in front of his man and not once allowed him to get by…. this is something Pitino values dearly.


First Half Takeaways

Defense: His defense was excellent overall. He didn’t allow any points and consistantly stayed in front of his man. He also caused two turnovers.

Offense: He showed off his quick first step, which allowed him to get in the lane and create separation on his jumper. His high shot release allows him to shoot over taller defenders. He also showed he can play both on and off the ball.

Unofficial First Half Stats

Second Half

In the second half, Jamal Mashburn Jr. started heating up, knocking down 4 jump-shots, including three 3’s. All three 3’s were off the catch, as you can see below. 




He also displayed his pull-up jumper, once again, when he knocked this 2-pointer down, after coming off a dribble hand-off.


His defense, though…. Here, just watch these highlights.

In the first, he sees an offensive player driving the lane. Although his man is in the corner, he decides to take a risk and steps in for the charge, before the ball-handler, can avoid him and get the pass off to his now-open shooter on the wing. It’s great recognition and awareness by him. You can’t teach this.


Yet again Mashburn Jr. showed his defensive IQ in this next highlight. He first gets over the screen and then plays perfect help-side defense. 


Second Half Takeaways

Defense: It was more of the same. He showed his grit by taking a charge and also displayed his defensive IQ. What he lacks in size, he definitely makes up for with his basketball smarts. 

Offense: Showed his shooting ability more in this half. Knocked down three of four 3’s. He didn’t have any assists but also rarely got the opportunity to with how little he handled the ball. 

First Half15:33 93113-61-32-2
Second Half13:35130005-63-40-0
Unofficial Second Half and Total Game Stats

Final Takeaways

Overall, I thought Mashburn Jr. played really well in this game. He showed off his shooting ability, defensive IQ, and grit/aggressiveness.

All these skills should translate to the next level, especially in the Big Ten. To be honest, he kind of reminds me of former University of Indiana point guard Yogi Ferrell who had some of the same strengths that I see in Mashburn Jr. 

Ferrell showed the ability to shoot and also be a menace on defense, both skills that Jamal Jr. has. Those skills helped earn Ferrell All-Big Ten and All-Big Ten Defense awards. 

Am I a college basketball expert? Definitely not. But that doesn’t mean Mashburn Jr. can’t turn into that type of player. This is another excellent pick-up for Richard Pitino and company.

Carson Ruen | Minnesota Sports Fan

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