By Ryan Menzie
Signal Sports Writer
Mike Penberthy played for the Los Angeles Lakers and won the championship in 2001 with hall of famers Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. However, coming out of high school Mike didn’t get as much exposure and looks from scouts as his son, Hart High School’s senior guard Jaden Penberthy, is getting now.
“It seems like he’s played in over 100 games a year,” said Mike. “When I played, I only played in four and that was it. That was all the exposure we got in 1991.”
When Mike was coming out of high school, the Las Vegas Invitational was the biggest tournament for kids to get themselves noticed. Mike said he really only had one offer coming out of high school, and that was from The Master’s University, where he ultimately ended up playing his four years.
Mike now is currently an assistant coach for the Lakers and won a championship with them in 2020 with Lebron James. He also sees the level of recruitment, and exposure, his son has been getting and believes his son is much better than he was at the same age.
Jaden has talked to more than 40 college coaches from across the country, including Indiana State, Boise State, Cal Poly and Stanford.
Jaden stands at 6 feet, 6 inches tall and 195 pounds, and is no stranger to the world of basketball. His journey has been a story of hard work and a loving support system around him, but he would be the first to tell you his journey is far from over.
Unlike his father, Jaden has been bombarded with opportunities and has played in many tournament games.
During Mike’s time at The Master’s, he would make First-Team All NAIA his last two seasons before going undrafted in 1997, but would end up on the Lakers for their 2001 championship season.
“Four years of college is what I needed to be considered good,” said Mike. “I wasn’t recruited much at all. I ended up at Master’s because it was the only real program that was interested in me and I had to come in and redshirt. I wasn’t as good as Jaden so he deserves all the recruiting he gets.”
Jaden has taken the recruitment process one day at a time and understands how lucky he is to be in the position he is in. He also understands his dad didn’t get as much exposure as him and knew it was harder for him due to not having as big of a support system around him.
Jaden wants to keep everything intact and knows whoever selects him will be getting a stronger work ethic than they can imagine and a vocal leader for the team once called upon.
“My dad was a lot more underrated coming out of high school. He had late looks and a big reason he ended up at the Master’s,” said Penberthy. “The entire recruitment has been one big blessing for me. My decision will mainly come down to playing my first year and developing to be the best player possible, but whoever gets me will get someone who is extremely coachable and who will work hard no matter the circumstances.”
Jaden now enters his fourth year of high school basketball, but will only be in his third year playing due to injuries suffered during travel team basketball.
Before the start of his junior season, Jaden sprained his ankle after training for about eight months through COVID-19 in only his second travel team game. He would go on to try to play through the injury and would end up spraining his other ankle in the process.
Despite the injuries, Hart High School basketball head coach Tom Kelly expects Jaden to have a great year and propel the team to the next level.
“He’s going to be a complete player for us. He’s going to have to do some of everything, score and handle the ball,” said Kelly. “Since he’s been on the team since his freshman year, his leadership will be the most valuable for the young guys around him to help this team grow.”
Jaden has taken the time to be able to reevaluate his life and is learning not to take anything for granted. He has also grown to be more empathetic for others who have suffered injury as well, knowing the amount of work it takes to get back to where you once were.
Jaden’s parents, Mike and Wendy, took the injury hard seeing their son get hurt and worried about how long it would take until he was able to play again.
“It was sad because he was really looking forward to high school,” said Wendy. “He was ready to go and it just got shut down because the season was so short. He battled through it physically and mentally. As a parent, all you can do is support him.”
Jaden seems to be on track to play starting the beginning of his senior season. He is staying focused on making playoffs and winning CIF with his team, but also is looking at the big picture of where he should play for college in the hopes of one day turning pro like his father.
Jaden said he feels blessed to have someone like his father in his life not only as someone who shows him love every single day, but also someone with the connections and the mentality of knowing what it takes to play at the pro level.
“I think about that every day. To be blessed to have a dad to get to where he is,” said Jaden. “Growing up with someone like that who knows what it takes to be successful and push me through things is something I’m thankful to God for. To have him as my dad is something truly special.”
Mike knows the amount of sacrifice needed to reach the pro level, and supports his son every step of the way.
“I just try to encourage him to have consistent daily routines. His daily routines are the most important thing,” said Mike. “He’s a pretty disciplined kid. He values the right things like basketball and life, so I try to encourage him to do that. I’m happy with the goals he set for himself and it’s great he’s willing to do it.”