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Marc Gasol embracing mentorship of Jaren Jackson Jr.

Grizzlies, Marc Gasol, Jaren Jackson Jr.

Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol has been a force in the NBA for 11 years. Now, in the twilight of his career, the Spanish-born big man is embracing the role of mentor to his up-and-coming teammate, Jaren Jackson Jr.

“He’s the guy who’s going to carry on with the franchise for the next 10, 15 years,” Gasol told Sports Illustrated in a recent interview. “So, I want to make sure that I leave it in good hands and the foundation of those things is crucial. It’s how you start, it’s what you stand for, those habits that you build early on, that’s gonna carry throughout your whole career. If we build him right and consistent, he should be great.”

As a three-time All-Star and former Defensive Player of the Year award winner, there are few better to learn from than Gasol.

Gasol’s instruction seems to be paying off in a big way, as Jackson is enjoying a fine rookie season. In his 23 appearances with the Grizzlies (21 starts), the former Michigan State Spartan has racked up averages of 13.9 points on 51.9 percent shooting from the field (34.5 percent from beyond the arc), 4.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.0 steal in 25.5 minutes per outing.

The fact that Gasol is willing to help the man who is projected to replace him is a true testament to his character. Some players would be upset if their team drafted a young stud at their position. Gasol, on the other hand, knows what Jackson means for the team’s future.