When four-star guard Jamal Mashburn Jr. visited the Gophers and Richard Pitino on his first official as a junior last year, their family ties were the biggest reason for the trip.
After all, the first Mashburn and Pitino player-coach connection happened with their fathers at Kentucky in the early 1990s, and that relationship is still strong with Jamal Mashburn Sr. and Rick Pitino today.
But the younger Mashburn is making his second official visit to Pitino’s Gophers on Friday through this Sunday, because this is potentially a place he could see himself playing college ball.
“With Richard Pitino, there’s obviously a family-type bond to that,” Mashburn said. “The first official visit was good. I saw everything I wanted to see and that I wanted to hear. The second official visit is I’m getting close to making my decision. I want to make sure I have everything in the right line. And make sure I’m making the right decision possible. If I have to take two visits to a specific university just to make sure, I’ll do that. It’s my future on the line.”
Mashburn, a 6-foot-2 senior from Brewster Academy (N.H.), is a consensus top-100 prospect and ranked highest at 84th in the Class of 2020 and the 10th best combo guard by 247Sports.com. After his official visit with Cal last weekend, Mashburn said his final two school are the Gophers and Golden Bears.
“It’s just down to Cal and Minnesota,” he told the Star Tribune earlier this week. “Those are pretty much my main two I’ll be focusing on. After this Minnesota visit, I’ll sit down with my dad and have a long discussion about the pros and cons. The good and the bad to each program. Both are great programs with Pac-12 competition and Big Ten competition. I just have to make the right decision for myself and really think about it.”
The Gophers have three scholarships available with no commitments yet in the 2020 class. Mashburn has been a high priority for Pitino for a couple years. But he really shined in the Nike EYBL this summer, averaging 17 points and shot 40 percent from three-point range for the PSA Cardinals from New York.
On what he likes about the Gophers, Mashburn said: “They need somebody like me. They need scoring and somebody who can stretch the floor. They need someone who can shoot the ball, defend and lead a team. Those are the things they need. Lot of programs might want me, but do they have a need for me? That separates them from other programs. There’s a need, and I know with the right opportunity I can make something happen.”
Last weekend, the Gophers had four-star 6-10 Chicago Bloom forward Martice Mitchell and five-star 6-11 Prior Lake forward Dawson Garcia on official visits. Garcia told Prep Hoops national analyst Ryan James that he would decide this fall after taking three more officials, including Memphis this weekend.
Garcia did enjoy his visit with the home state program.
"I have always been cool with this coaching staff,” Garcia told James. “But going to Coach Pitino's house and being around his family, I just felt super comfortable. Being around that family environment, I just felt at home really."