Jasmine Mansell seemed to be on the fast track. Fame, fortune and everything that comes with an NBA career was on the horizon for the Bronx native.
He graduated from John F. Kennedy HS in 1993, got his grades together at upstate Redemption Christian Academy and Dixie State College in Utah and was all set to take Fresno State coach Jerry Tarkanian up on his scholarship offer.
“Tark told me one year I’d be in the NBA, just like he did with [Rafer Alston],” the 6-foot-6, multi-faceted Mansell said. “He just told me, ‘Give me one year, because you’re too talented.’ He was like, ‘Man, you got it all.’”
But when Mansell came back to the Bronx from Utah that summer, he was busted for drugs. He ended up doing six years – from 1998 to 2004 – in federal prison. Just like that, his NBA dreams and his prime basketball years were lost.
“Worst experience of my life,” Mansell said. “It tore me up.”
It has been five years since he got out and, although his NBA hopes are long past, Mansell has made a name for himself on the streetball circuit, where he started playing when he was 16 years old. Better known as “Total Package,” he has become a legend on the hallowed playgrounds of New York City.
Mansell, who has the jump shot and ball handling of a guard and the power and size of a forward, was a staple of the And 1 Mixed Tape Tour and was even featured in the company’s video game in 2006. That same year he dropped 33 points on New York Knicks forward David Lee at the Kingdome Classic in Harlem.
He has also bounced around professional leagues in the United States and Canada. Mansell is currently working on a deal with a team from Canada’s Premier Basketball League.
“I’m back in basketball,” he said. “I’m straight. I’ve been home for five years now. I’m clean, no more street. I’m all about basketball now. Like I should’ve been then.”
But Mansell is 33 and admittedly not in top condition. In the Kingdome team’s win in the Dyckman Tournament semifinals Wednesday night, he was more opportunistic than explosive. But he still got his points and was a big reason for his team’s victory.
“He’s a veteran, man,” Kingdome assistant coach Laquan Perkins said. “He don’t give up. He works hard all the time. He’s been through it all.”
Still, Mansell knows his playing days won’t last forever. His son, Tiquan, is 14 years old and he’s going to be sending him to play for his old coach, the legendary Johnny Mathis, at Kennedy. Tiquan already has size and his father’s skills.
“He’s gonna be TP2,” Mansell said with a laugh.
Mansell does some work with the Milbank youth program, the Boys Club and Wadleigh’s boys’ basketball team. Because of his love for basketball, Mansell says, he sees his future in coaching one day.
“Maybe take Mathis off his throne,” he said with a laugh.
Then he really would be the total package.