MIAMI – Before you find out if Jamal Mashburn Jr. can shoot the ball or handle it the way his father did in the NBA, know this about the 16-year-old sophomore:
He has a 3.7 grade-point average, he is taking honors entrepreneurship, and he dreams of attending and playing for Harvard.
Mashburn Jr., a 6-1 point guard at Miami Gulliver Prep, already has offers from Louisville, Florida and Miami. But in a conversation this week while he participated in the third annual HoopHall Invitational at AmericanAirlines Arena, Mashburn Jr. made it clear he’s going to take advantage of his college education, no matter where he goes.
“My dad’s a business guy, and I want to study food franchising,” he said. “I want to know how to pitch deals, and I want to learn early.”
Mashburn Jr. said his father works with him on his basketball skills on an almost daily basis. But there’s a huge difference in size between father and son, and “Junior” has a lot to live up to in terms of talent, too.
Mashburn, a 45-year-old native of the Bronx in New York City, was listed at 6-8 and 240 pounds during his playing days. A first-team All-American at Kentucky in 1993 and an NBA All-Star in 2003, Mashburn played for three NBA teams: Mavericks, Heat and Hornets.
He was playing for the Hornets and living in Charlotte when Jamal Jr. was born. But the family has since settled in Miami, where Mashburn Jr. is developing his own basketball style.
After averaging 24 points as a freshman last season, Mashburn has vaulted to a consensus ranking of No. 59 in the nation among all players in the Class of 2020.
He scored 30 and 33 points, respectively, in two exhibitions and posted 21 points in a loss to University (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) in the HoopHall tournament.
“I haven’t seen a kid with his mid-range game in the past 10 years,” Gulliver coach Manny Bloom said. “He elevates, extends fully and shoots above defenses.”
Bloom said Mashburn Jr. is the “epitome” of what a coach would want as a player in terms of work ethic, adding that the talented teenager has a regimen he works on with his father and a strength coach.
Mashburn watches his son at every game and most every practice. And his son’s textbook shooting form is evidence that his father’s instruction has paid off.
Ideal height – or the lack of it – should not be a factor for Mashburn Jr., Bloom said.
“He can put his whole head over the rim,” Bloom said. “His legs have gotten so much stronger, and his basketball IQ is through the roof.
“I think this season he can average mid-20s in points and about 10 rebounds and five assists.”
If Mashburn Jr. can live up to his coach’s vision that would signify a tremendous sophomore season, no doubt drawing the interest of many more college coaches.
“I’m waiting to hear,” Mashburn Jr. said when asked about recruiting. “There are plenty of more schools interested in me.”
Harvard is one of those schools – Mashburn Jr. said the coaching staff is trying to come down to see him play as time permits.
“One of my goals is have my grades be good enough for Harvard,” Mashburn Jr. said. “Injuries can happen, and one day the ball is going to stop dribbling. But I want to have longevity as far as my mind.”