Nearly 30 years after their fathers teamed up at Kentucky to reach a Final Four, Richard Pitino and Jamal Mashburn Jr. will try to create another generation of Pitino-Mashburn greatness at the University of Minnesota.
The son of former Kentucky star and 12-year NBA veteran Jamal Mashburn announced Monday that he picked the Gophers over Cal to play college basketball.
"I have a great opportunity to flourish and have a chance to win," said Mashburn, a four-star senior guard at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire. "I know with the right opportunity I can make something happen."
Sure, it didn't hurt that Mashburn Sr. has been close to Rick Pitino, Richard's father, since playing for him at Kentucky from 1990 to '93. The bond between Mashburn Jr. and Richard Pitino developed, though. They saw themselves being able to build something special together with the Gophers.
That family history just strengthened Mashburn's decision after visiting Minnesota's campus for the second time earlier this month.
"The whole family bond thing has stayed the same throughout it all," Mashburn Jr. said. "I feel like it hasn't really changed. They still had to do their recruiting. I'm not just going to walk in their because he's Rick Pitino's son and my dad. This was for me and I wanted to go through the process. I have gone through the process."
Pitino's 2020 class is ranked No. 27 nationally and No. 5 in the Big Ten by 247Sports.com with Mashburn and 6-10 four-star Chicago Heights Bloom forward Martice Mitchell. With one more scholarship remaining for the 2020 class, the Gophers are still in the running for five-star Prior Lake forward Dawson Garcia, who made his official visit last month.
Mashburn is ranked 88th overall and the 10th-best combo guard in the 2020 class by 247Sports.com. Pitino first recruited him at Gulliver Prep in Miami as a sophomore in high school.
After transferring for his junior year last season, Mashburn helped Brewster Academy win the National Prep Champions title. At the Nike Peach Jam in July, he averaged 20.8 points and shot 46.9% from three-point range for the PSA Cardinals. He had scholarship offers from Auburn, Florida, Florida State and Ohio State, among others.
"The thing that I loved about him is he can play both ends of the floor," PSA Cardinals coach Terrance "Munch" Williams said. "I think his upside is tremendous. I know he's going to be a big-time college player. He'll easily be a 1,500-point guy. But [Jamal Mashburn Sr.] doesn't try to make Junior him. They walk their own walk. He's never been overbearing. He's always been a great support system."
Mashburn Jr. is 6-2 and weighs 185 pounds; his father was a 6-8, 245-pound All-America at Kentucky. The size difference relieves some of the pressure of growing up in his dad's footsteps.
"I hold my name and the legacy I'm carrying with great regard," he said. "It's an honor and it's a blessing for him to be my dad. But I'm not that big of a stature as he was, so people can't make that hard of a comparison. That creates an opportunity for me to create my own name and own style of play."