“Never Take a Day Off”
Four-star small forward and 2021 Tennessee basketball commit, Jahmai Mashack, has certainly made the most out of an untraditional road to the college game.
With no AAU season and high school basketball still on the shelf in California, Mashack has had to find a number of different options in order to continue to elevate his game before he arrives on Rocky Top.
Whether it’s been Pro’s Vision, a training program founded by 10-year NBA veteran Darren Collison, or just any open court he can find, Mashack knows how important it is to continue to find ways onto the court, even in the absence of a season. Known for his elite defense and highlight-filmed game tape, Mashack has been one of the main talking points surrounding the future of Tennessee Basketball.
In an interview with Krysten Peek of Rivals, Jahmai Mashack talked about his unpredictable senior year experience, what he is specifically improving on for his Tennessee arrival, and playing with five-star point guard Kennedy Chandler.
“I’ve been going to a lot of Pro’s Vision stuff and doing things outside,” Mashack told Peek when asked about how he has been staying in shape without a season. “[I’ve been doing] a lot of endurance stuff, making sure that I come into Tennessee in shape. That’s been my main goal. Making sure my endurance is right because it’s a long season.”
While high school basketball players in the state of Tennessee were fortunate enough to have a season, the California players were not. Mashack, though, didn’t let the pandemic and closings limit his playing options and got right to work.
Pro’s Vision, a training program set up and founded by longtime NBA veteran Darren Collison, was one of the biggest answers in light of Jahmai Mashack’s missing season.
“I’m making sure I’m getting shots up every day I can,” Mashack said in the interview with Rivals. “Playing against good competition, it helps you know? So improving my game in every aspect, making sure my weaknesses become strengths.”
Always improving💯💯 https://t.co/WAbG3Lpana
— Jahmai (Jah-MY’) Mashack (@JahmaiM) February 26, 2021
While the 2020-2021 Tennessee regular season was only just completed over the weekend, it was evident that while Tennessee’s defensive presence was the strength of the team. On the other hand, its offensive production on any given night seemed like a coin flip.
The good news for head coach Rick Barnes is that a general offensive presence is exactly what the senior star believes he has improved the most on.
“I think probably my shooting and my patience,” replied Mashack when asked about what he has improved the most over the course of the past few months and through the pandemic. “I’ve been growing in other areas as far as defense, passing, and play-making, but ball-handling, shooting, and patience have probably been the three biggest things for me.”
Mashack went on to explain his mindset behind transitioning his own play from one level to the next.
“Earlier, I was very, you know, fast and athletic,” said Mashack. “So I was just able to go to the basket. But as you get to a higher level you have to learn how to slow yourself down and be more patient with making decisions. So that’s really been a big help and my ball-handling and shooting have grown a lot.”
Aside from growing into a stand-out offensive player, Jahmai Mashack is already considered to be one of the elite high school defenders in the country.
Josh Gershon, a highly regarded national basketball recruiting analyst, called Mashack “one of the top defenders nationally in 2021 class” in his scouting report of Mashack from April of 2020.
— Jahmai (Jah-MY’) Mashack (@JahmaiM) March 4, 2021
After the Rancho Cucamonga native inked his official letter of intent in November, Barnes was quick to praise his defensive qualities.
“Jahmai is a big, physical guard who is a great competitor and plays the game the right way,” said Barnes after Mashack’s official signing. “We love that he understands the importance of defense, team basketball, and hard work.”
Mashack knows the importance of critical defense, and why it often leads to improved offense.
“My main job is to make shots and score,” said Mashack in the interview with Peek. “But at the same time go on the other end and play defense.”
The six-foot-five small forward also added this: “[Defense] is what gets you to the next level. You know, it’s something that definitely flies under the radar, but it’s something that you know you cant take for granted. Everybody loves somebody who plays defense, everybody loves somebody who can go on the floor and lock up another player or play hard every possession.”
Speaking of trustworthy and reliable teammates, Mashack will certainly have one by his side as five-star point guard Kennedy Chandler will be joining up with him in Knoxville.
“My boy Kennedy,” Mashack said while fighting through a laugh after he was asked about Chandler by Peek. “I can’t wait to play with him at Tennessee. I was able to train with him once and get some shots up, do some drills with him. He’s a gifted player, man. I’m so excited to get to play with a true point guard like him.”
Jahmai Mashack also spoke very highly about the details of the play of his future Tennessee teammate.
“[He] can kick it up,” said Mashack. “Pass whenever he can, shoot whenever he wants, and also another defender. It helps to have somebody else who wants to play defense with you.”
Both Chandler and Mashack will have big shoes to fill at Tennessee. Not only will they be coming into a program with sky-high expectations from the previous few years, but they will also potentially be following in the footsteps of two prolific one-and-done freshmen, Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson.
But Mashack has certainly proved for himself that he has the work ethic, mentality, and drive to accomplish whatever task is in front of him, no matter how unpredictable.
Some time into the pandemic, Mashack realized his season wouldn’t be happening as normal. But he didn’t let that stop him from getting better.
As he said it best: “No days off.”