FISHERS, Ind. — He’s about six inches shorter than his dad, but despite the difference in height, Jamal Mashburn Jr. looks just like the man Kentucky fans lovingly know as Monster Mash.
“Especially back when he had the hair,” Mashburn Jr. said. “I do look exactly like him. It’s not a bad thing,” he said with a laugh.
Mashburn Jr., who lives in Miami, is a 6-foot-2 combo guard in the 2020 class. He’s the 67th-ranked prospect in the class, according to the 247Sports composite. And while he doesn’t have the small forward size that Jamal Mashburn possessed, Mashburn Jr. has incorporated parts of his father’s game into his own.
“He taught me how to shoot from a young age, and my biggest strength is my mid-range game,” Mashburn Jr. said. “That’s where I started. Everything that he taught me is from his game.”
The elder Mashburn was a 12-year NBA veteran who starred for the Heat, Mavericks and Hornets. He averaged 19 points and 5 rebounds per game in his NBA career. But of course, before that, Mashburn played three seasons (1990-93) at Kentucky for Rick Pitino. He was Pitino’s first big star in Lexington, averaging more than 20 points per game in his sophomore and junior seasons.
His No. 24 jersey is retired, and now his son’s college career is just more than two years on the horizon. Mashburn Jr. knows all the stories from his dad’s Kentucky career, but his allegiance lies more with the coach than the program.
Before Pitino was fired in October amid a recruiting scandal, Mashburn Jr. was a likely Louisville lean to play for the same coach as his dad.
“I had a strong relationship with Rick Pitino and I still do,” Mashburn Jr. said. “He still keeps in contact with me to this day. That’s a big part about it. Even though he’s not part of Louisville, he still keeps in contact. That’s what I love about Rick Pitino.”
Mashburn Jr. hasn’t been in contact with Chris Mack and the new Louisville regime, but he said he has an offer from the Cardinals along with Florida, Florida State, Miami and Harvard.
As for Kentucky, Mashburn Jr. is familiar with John Calipari’s staff and said he should be in contact with the Cats this summer. His mom’s family is in Lexington and he said he’s in town quite a bit. There’s that connection, but the obvious one is his father’s legacy.
“He basically put them on the map and every time he goes back down there it’s crazy,” Mashburn Jr. said. “His impact on Kentucky basketball is tremendous.”
The Cats were already on the map, but Mashburn at least kickstarted Pitino’s career in Lexington. But as for Mini Mash, if a Kentucky offer does come, his choice won’t simply be to follow his father’s footsteps.
“He wants me to create my own path and create my own journey,” Mashburn Jr. said. “Whatever’s best for me, that’s good enough.”
Mashburn Jr. fashions himself as a scorer who wants to become a better distributor and defender. He’s the leading scorer for Team Breakdown on the Under Armour circuit, averaging just under 19 points per game.
“One of my goals is to play for the best destination and the best spot for me to get exposure because obviously I want to be a pro,” he said. “I wanna hear from Duke, Kentucky — all the big-name schools.”