Tennessee may have been the most recent team to extend an offer to Jahmai Mashack, but the Vols are quickly making a big impact on the four-star guard.
Head coach Rick Barnes extended an offer to Mashack, a standout at Etiwanda in Rancho Cucamonga, California, right at the end of June. And in that short time, Tennessee has been able to gain a lot of traction with the talented, defensive-minded guard.
In an interview with Jake Weingarten of StockRisers.com, Mashack discussed some of the teams recruiting him the hardest and his upcoming visit plans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mashack told Weingarten that he will be taking a virtual campus visit with Tennessee on Tuesday of this upcoming week.
“Rick Barnes has made it a priority to speak with Mashack,” Weingarten wrote, “and I fully expect the Vols to make a major push here and try and land a pledge from the Etiwanda product.”
According to 247Sports, the 6-foot-5, 190-pound guard is the No. 66 overall prospect and No. 14 shooting guard in the 2021 cycle. He’s ranked 99th overall and No. 23 among shooting guards in the composite.
Mashack suffered an injury last summer that slowed down his recruitment temporarily. But now that he’s healthy again, teams have taken notice and have started to make him a priority on the recruiting trail.
That includes Tennessee.
“Coach Barnes was the coach who called and offered. Obviously, to get a call from a legendary coach like him was big time,” Mashack said in an interview with RTI earlier this month. “He personally talked about how much they would like for me to be a part of their family. Coach (Michael) Schwartz (Tennessee’s associate head coach) was the coach I talked to on a regular basis. He’s checked on me and my family during the protests and with the pandemic. Basketball has always been secondary to what’s going on with me as a person. Coach (Kim) English has also reached out.”
All this interest comes even though Mashack has missed the last two AAU seasons. Last year it was because of a fractured foot, and this year it’s because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But he earned Cal-Hi Second Team All-State honors in the highest division of high school basketball as a junior last year, showing off ability as a slashing scorer and really shining on the defensive end of the floor.
Now that he’s healthy, several high-major programs have come calling. Tennessee is the most recent to offer Mashack, but he also has picked up offers from Texas, Louisville, Arizona, Oklahoma, Utah, and Colorado among others since the pandemic has taken hold.
“I’m so blessed. I don’t take it for granted that these coaches are taking the time to get to know me and watching my game film,” Mashack stated. “I stayed at one school, Etiwanda, and I stayed with my local AAU team, Prodigy. I had to kinda do things the local grassroots way because I didn’t want to just leave. So coaches know I’m a team-first guy.
“It’s definitely paid off.”
Defensively, Mashack has the foot quickness to stay in front of guards and the length and physicality to play against forwards as well. His strength is definitely in his defense, and he could be one of the top defenders regardless of position in the entire 2021 class. Offensively, Mashack has some tools to work with and is capable of slashing inside and hitting outside jumpers both. His defense can lead to offense, too.
Though Tennessee is the newest team to be involved with Mashack, the four-star guard has known about both the Vols and Rick Barnes for some time now. The fact that UT is making him a priority stands out as well.
“I’ve known about Coach Barnes for a while, but I started to learn about Tennessee two years ago,” Mashack explained. “I watched (Admiral) Schofield, Grant (Williams), and (Jordan) Bone a lot.
“I know (Tennessee is) all about character and player development. They get into people defensively, which I love, and they run an equal opportunity offense. I also know they don’t offer a lot of players at all.”
Tennessee doesn’t currently have any prospects committed to them in their 2021 class, but Mashack is one of several highly-rated recruits the Vols are pursuing in this cycle. Five-stars Kennedy Chandler, Paolo Banchero, Jabari Smith, Harrison Ingram, and Charles Bediako are some of the top names on UT’s board.