6’2” guard Jamari Phillips of Paul George Elite (CA) and Modesto Christian HS (CA) is coming off a strong summer, having firmly established himself as one of the top sophomores in the nation and is currently ranked 17th nationally on ESPN. Having accumulated high major offers from the likes of Kansas, Washington, USC, and Texas Tech over the past two months, Phillips is an electric scorer who is able to put the ball in the basket from multiple levels. A multi-sport athlete in both basketball and football, Phillips impressed as a standout at various recent events including Section 7, CP3 Rising Stars Camp, and CrossRoads Elite Invitational. This year, one of NorCal’s top prospects is ready to continue developing his facilitation skills and lead Modesto Christian alongside 2024 guard Ty Virgil.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Phillips shared his individual shooting and training regimen, his interest in real estate, an eye-opening anecdote from his recruitment, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2024 prospect Jamari Phillips, from Modesto, California:
Pro Insight: Can you share a bit about your background?
Jamari Phillips: So I was born in Pasadena and I moved down to Bakersfield for my elementary years. I started playing with Bakersfield Elite (CA), coached by skills trainer Jesse Soto. Then we moved up to the Bay Area, NorCal. And currently in my high school years, I’m at Modesto Christian. My middle school years were at Dallas Ranch. Bakersfield basketball was pretty solid. I liked it out there. It was hot. That was fine. I was really in the gym with my brother and my dad a lot. My mom played along with us and coming up to the Bay, I started focusing more on basketball and school and less distractions going on and stuff like that.
PI: Did you play any other sports growing up?
JP: Not growing up, but I recently played this high school season for football and I kind of came out a little early because I came out with an ankle injury, but now I’m already recovered from that so I’m just doing workouts and basketball.
PI: Which position did you play in football?
JP: I played wide receiver and free safety.
PI: For those who aren’t familiar with your game on the hardwood, what are your greatest strengths?
JP: So I shoot the ball at a high rate from behind the arc and that’s mostly what I’m great at and I like to attack the basket and try to create contact and convert it into and-ones. As far as my play style, I like playing at my own pace, not too fast, not too slow. Just flowing with it and then not trying to rush anything too quickly.
PI: What do you feel you still need to improve on the most? What have you been working on?
JP: When people shoot the ball, I tend to stop and watch and not go in for a rebound. I’m trying to go in for a rebound. Work on guarding smaller and quicker guards. I mean, handling the pressure from smaller and quicker guards and finishing at the rack differently.
PI: Who do you model your game after and try to study on film?
JP: I watch a lot of Devin Booker film. I watch his Synergy. I’ve been watching Jalen Green since Prolific Prep, since he’s been in the league. So far he’s doing great. I mean their games are different. I like the way Devin Booker comes off of screens and creates a shot for others and space and stuff. And Jalen Green, he’s just like a scoring machine, man. It’s crazy like watching him, seeing how he gets his shots off and his shot selection.
PI: Do you have a specific training regimen?
JP: So at the beginning of my workouts, we don’t even work out with no ball or nothing. It’s just a bunch of stretches for about thirty minutes. Then we get into lateral movement and then form shots. Start with form shots and then catch-and-shoots, stuff off the dribble, off the screen, off the combo move, hesi, pick-and-roll situation, and all that stuff. At home, I get on the shooting gun about five to seven times a week. Try to do ball handling four times a week. I make about 750 shots every time I’m on The Gun.
PI: Who do you train with?
JP: I train with Will, WillPower for skill training. He’s based in Oakland right now and I train with Ayinde Ubaka and his gym is CourtVision in San Leandro. For the last two years, I trained with Chad Johnson for strength and conditioning.
PI: What are your current measurements?
JP: I’m 6’2” with no shoes. I have a 6’8” wingspan. I weigh about 183 [pounds] right now, and my standing reach is about 8’3”.
PI: Describe this past summer with Paul George Elite.
JP: We were a great team, but it was kind of off with the COVID stuff because we couldn’t get as many practices with everyone there. We went into EYBL pretty strong, went 7-0 before pool play and we kind of had a setback because of injuries in the last couple of games. So we didn’t come out as high as we thought we were going to. Some teams we kind of underestimated a little bit, but we’re coming back this year stronger. For sure.
PI: What was it like playing with Isaiah Elohim on PG Elite?
JP: I mean, it’s great playing with Isaiah because he can create his own shot and get other people open, run off of a pick-and-roll and dump it off or shoot it off into the corner and pass it to somebody else. His mental state is there. He’s a great player, a great guy.
PI: How has your experience at Modesto Christian been so far?
JP: I love it there, man. It’s pretty good. The education side is pretty solid, like academic-wise it’s great. The coaching staff is amazing. They always try to get our guys out, get them offers and looks and our system that we run is great. Everyone is involved, everyone touches the ball, shoots it. If someone is hot, we feed him for a minute, and then just keep playing.
PI: What are your short term goals you have for yourself as a player?
JP: Kind of playing this season, trying to get some more assists on my stat line and more points. Overall, I would say just going into this season with a better mindset than I did my freshman year. Since it was COVID and everything, I didn’t see it as I see it now. I see it kind of differently, and I was ranked on ESPN, so now it’s like I gotta come in with more desire than I did before.
PI: Is there increased pressure that comes with being nationally ranked?
JP: You don’t really have to worry about your ranking, but there definitely is... you can feel some pressure on you since you’re considered, well for me, I’m considered the 17th in my class. There’s some pressure there on me trying to boost my stock so I have to play with more force, and if scouts or something want to see me play this way, I’d have to add a little bit of that. It’s just getting better overall, honestly.
PI: What are your biggest interests outside of basketball?
JP: I like playing video games a lot, but career-wise I’m really into real estate, like being a broker and stuff like that. Stuff to do with business.
PI: What got you interested in the real estate industry?
JP: Honestly, my auntie is a broker and real estate agent so I saw what she was doing on social media, talked to her a couple of times and I found it very interesting. And I just got into it a lot more.
PI: Who are your favorite music artists?
JP: I like a couple. I like Lil Baby, Drake. I like YoungBoy, Durk, Polo G. I listen to some R&B. I like Brent Faiyaz. I mean it’s a whole list. Rod Wave, he’s solid. I like Rod Wave.
PI: You have one hashtag to describe yourself. What is it?
JP: #humble. I’m a very humble person. I like being humble. I don’t like to brag about anything. It’s just not who I am.
PI: If you were stuck forever on a deserted island and had all the food, water, and shelter you needed — what three personal items would you bring?
JP: A phone if that’s possible. If there’s service I’d bring my phone. I mean, I guess a knife or something of some sort. Clothes, like a lot of clothes. That’s about it. [If I could bring more], I’d just bring an extra TV, a game, probably a basketball. Build a basketball hoop out of something.
PI: What’s the latest with your recruitment?
JP: I mean I just got a recent Kansas offer. The coaches that I have been talking to are really on me. I’m trying to build relationships and I like that. And I’m just waiting to go on these unofficial visits and trying to see what the schools are like, how do I fit in the system, studying like where they come from as far as the culture of a school, and how I would be loved there by the fans and all the other people around town and stuff like that. That’s like a key part.
PI: What’s an interesting anecdote or funny story you feel is unique or special to your recruitment, specifically?
JP: Oh okay...Damon Stoudamire said he wouldn’t recruit me to come to his school because he said I would never touch a college floor. I just found it crazy to hear that coming from him since he was a big athlete back in the day. I was like “wow.” Like he thinks I’d go straight out of high school and I was surprised that he’d say that.
PI: What will ultimately be your deciding factors when making your choice?
JP: Back to what I was saying…finding the culture of the school, how I feel loved there, how I fit into the system, relationships that I have with the coaching staff. My parents' opinions on it would kind of affect it just a little bit. And mostly my own thoughts and how I feel personally with them.
PI: There’s a lot more post-grad options available with G League Ignite, OTE, and NBL, among others. Have you and your family done much research into those opportunities?
JP: Yeah, we did OTE and Ignite. We’re kind of on that still, going through it and researching it and talking to people. We haven’t done the NBL yet. It’s just a crazy process, honestly.
PI: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
JP: I think it was just focusing on myself. I was told to just focus on myself and don’t worry about what everybody else is doing. Focus on yourself and you can have no distractions. You’ll get further than where you want to get to.
PI: How would you define the word ‘success?’
JP: Reaching my goals and finding happiness in what I’ve accomplished, honestly.
PI: Who’s someone you really look up to?
JP: Probably Jalen Green because his overall game is very, very good and he’s so skilled, the way he gets his shot off, his jumper, the way he finds other people to get open, rebounding abilities, his athleticism is all there. Studying his game is nice, very interesting too.
PI: Name four words that best describe you.
JP: Humble. Shooter. Unique. Skilled.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for?
JP: One the court, the ability to shoot the ball at a high percentage behind the arc and to get a bucket when needed. Off the court, being a good character and always being caring to other people and being there when they need me.