Vols trending for top 50 hooper set to announce decision next week

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    (Photo via @JahmaiM on Twitter)

    Rick Barnes’ basketball program is trending for yet another top 50 player.

    Four-star small forward Jahmai Mashack recently told 247Sports that he plans on making his collegiate decision on Sept. 8 between Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

    Shortly after Mashack told 247 that he was going to announce his decision next week, the crystal ball predictions came flying in for the Rancho Cucamonga, California native. Five to be exact, all of which were in Tennessee’s favor.

    Mashack is considered the No. 43 overall player in the country by 247, the No. 9 small forward and the No. 3 player in the state of California. Rivals lists Mashack as the 11th-best shooting guard and the No. 48 overall player.

    Tennessee assistant coach Mike Schwartz is serving as Mashack’s primary recruiter. The Vols offered the 6-foot-5, 190 lbs. wing player on June 30 of earlier this year. Mashack currently has 14 total scholarship offers which includes offers from Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Louisville and Texas.

    Mashack took a virtual visit with the Vols over Zoom shortly after Tennessee offered. He told Rocky Top Insider following the virtual visit that it included talking with all of UT’s coaches and learning more about Tennessee’s basketball program. And he came away impressed.

    “The virtual visit was awesome,” Mashack stated. “We went over everything about their program and culture. All the coaches were on the visit and my family too.”

    During the visit, Mashack and Tennessee’s coaches discussed how he would fit in with the Vols if he chose UT and how Rick Barnes and his staff have had success developing players throughout their coaching tenures.

    “Coach Barnes went over what they see for me there at Tennessee and how they’ve been successful with other players,” Mashack explained. “They also talked about how I would develop there and how much my game, mindset, and character fit their program.”

    Despite being one of the newest teams to get involved in his recruitment at the time, Mashack was impressed by Tennessee and the plan they’ve constructed for him should he come to UT. Mashack is regarded as one of the best defenders in the 2021 class regardless of position, but Tennessee’s approach in his recruitment hasn’t been one-dimensional.

    In fact, Barnes and his staff have done more than attempt to reach Mashack at just a basketball level during the last month.

    “They are like a family, and our values definitely match up. Faith and family is huge for me,” Mashack said. “Also, from the very beginning they had a complete plan for how I will fit their system. They know I’ve had to play out of position a lot but knew a lot about my game and natural position. They did a ton of research on me and film breakdowns before even reaching out.

    “I can tell they take their offers seriously. They aren’t just recruiting me just for my defense either.”

    In a previous interview with RTI, Mashack stated that he isn’t taking any of the attention he’s getting from programs for granted because he knows what it’s like to be sitting on the sidelines and not be able to prove himself. Mashack missed the AAU circuit last summer after sustaining an injury, and his recruitment hit a standstill as he recovered.

    But Mashack was able to play during his junior season at Etiwanda, and his play led to more and more interest after a strong start to his playing career prior to the injury.

    Mashack wasn’t able to participate in the AAU circuit again this summer, but this time it wasn’t due to injury; the COVID-19 pandemic caused all travel ball over the summer to be canceled. But that hasn’t kept Mashack from keeping in shape and staying on top of his game, and he was just over in Las Vegas participating in a tournament that put him up against some highly-rated players across the country.

    Mashack said he’s known about Barnes for quite some time, and it was just a few years ago that Tennessee caught his eye as a basketball program. That was thanks, in large part, to the efforts of players like Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield, and Jordan Bone leading UT to the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons and lifting the Vols to No. 1 in the country for a month.

    “I’ve known about Coach Barnes for awhile, but I started to learn about Tennessee two years ago,” Mashack explained. “I watched Schofield, Grant, and 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.”

    Ben McKee
    Ben McKee is a graduate from the University of Tennessee and has a degree in Journalism and Electronic Media. He grew up an Army brat and lived in Alabama for a bit, but he bleeds orange. He covers Tennessee football, basketball, baseball, and the Lady Vols for RTI, and he's also a co-host on the RTI Live Show and RTI Podcast. You can also hear Ben on the morning sports radio show "The Swain Event." He's the producer and co-host along with former Vol wide receiver Jayson Swain.