Apr. 17—Another day, another highly regarded point guard announcing his desire to transfer to play for the New Mexico Lobos.
Jamal Mashburn Jr., a 6-foot-2 former four-star recruit who started eight games and averaged 8.2 points and 1.6 assists this past season as a true freshman for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, announced on social media Friday that he will follow his old coach, Richard Pitino, to Albuquerque and play for the Lobos.
“Let’s get the pit jumpin!” Mashburn posted on his Instagram page Friday along with a picture of himself in a cherry Lobos jersey with “The Future” written at the top and a crystal ball with a Lobos logo inside it.
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Mashburn is the son of former NBA star Jamal Mashburn, who was a collegiate All-American at Kentucky playing for Rick Pitino, Richard’s father.
While Richard Pitino can not yet comment on any new recruit at UNM until scholarship papers are signed, he said plenty about him all season as his coach at Minnesota.
“He never gets tired. Fearless competitor. Very, very confident because he put in the work,” Richard Pitino said in October ahead of the start of the 2020-21 season. “I think he’s very undervalued because of the Rick Pitino/Jamal Mashburn connection. I think people neglect how good he really is because of that.”
The younger Mashburn came on strong in Big Ten play this past season, averaging 13.6 points in his last nine games. He spent much of the season backing up Minnesota star Marcus Carr.
When Minnesota fired Richard Pitino last month, the younger Mashburn made clear, even before the Gophers hired a replacement, his plan to move on.
“I’m just looking for the right situation for me,” Mashburn told 247Sports.com on March 24. “Somewhere where I’ll be able to show my full skill set, be able to play with freedom, and have a chance to go to the next level. … I’m looking for a leadership role where I can lead my team on both sides of the floor and be able to be out there and show my complete game.”
With the NCAA not counting the 2020-21 season toward a player’s eligibility due to COVID-19, Mashburn still has four seasons of playing eligibility.
His announcement came a day after another former four-star recruit — Arizona State point guard Jaelen House, the son of former NBA player and ASU’s all-time leading scorer, Eddie House — announced his transfer to the Lobos.
House, who played two seasons at ASU, was quick to post on Mashburn’s Instagram page Friday morning, “Let’s goooooo!”
Messages left via social media for interview requests for both House and Mashburn have gone unreturned.
With so much movement in college basketball — the website VerbalCommits.com reported Friday there are 1,390 players in the NCAA transfer portal, including players who have already found new teams like Mashburn and House — there is little reason to assume a team’s roster in mid-April is what it will look like for next season.
That said, UNM’s roster now includes the following scholarship players:
—Returning (8): guards Saquan Singleton, Emmanuel Kuac, Jeremiah Francis, Javonte Johnson and Kurt Wegscheider; forwards Rod Brown and Valdir Manuel; and center Assane N’Diaye, who was not medically cleared to play last season.
—Transfers (2): Mashburn and House.
—Prep signee (1): Jamel King, a 6-8 small forward from Scottsdale’s Bella Vista Prep.
—TBD (1): Makuach Maluach has been leaning toward moving on after four seasons at UNM, be it as a graduate transfer or to start a pro career. But has been practicing with the Lobos and with the NCAA not counting the past season toward eligibility, he can return. Pitino would be open to that. As of Friday, Maluach had not made any public decisions.
That would make 11 scholarships filled without a Maluach return, 12 if he returns.
UNM scholarship players from this past season who are in the transfer portal include: forward Bayron Matos and guards Keith McGee, Isaiah Marin and Nolan Dorsey, who has already committed to Holy Cross. McGee and Dorsey in January opted out of the season.