Jasmine Brunson is a sophomore guard from Queens, N.Y. She got experience under pressure against a tough schedule as a freshman, and has been contributing for the Golden Gophers again this season as a reserve player. Recently, Brunson scored eight points and tallied three steals in the second quarter at North Carolina.
Brunson traveled a long way to play at Minnesota. But her bond with her family has lasting effects even when they’re apart from each other.
Growing up in New York, Jasmine Brunson constantly played basketball against boys. If there weren’t enough kids around to put teams together, she could still count on one person: her older brother, Malcolm, now 20.
“My brother is one of my biggest inspirations, especially for basketball,” Brunson said. “He always challenged me, always competed with me, always fought with me. He helped me with my toughness. He’s just somebody I constantly compete with and battle with.”
Jasmine, 19, said it would be an “understatement” to say the two of them played a lot of 1-on-1 against each other as kids. They would go to the park courts or the gym all the time.
Not surprisingly, big brother Malcolm would use his height as an advantage. He was also faster, and had the ability to go on a hot shooting streak.
“Once he hits one, then he will not miss after that,” Jasmine said. “So I had to find a way to guard his shot and guard his speed. That was a big challenge for me.”
What was a smaller sister to do? Use the classic younger sibling tactic of riling up the older one, of course.
“It was really easy to get into his head,” Jasmine said. “All I had to do was score once and he would get ticked off, so it was easy from there. I would do whatever I had to do to score just one time and it was fine after that.”
The Brunson siblings were competitive in video games as well as on the court. Most of the time they played something together, they were too busy trying to win to have time for giving or accepting advice. Much of what Jasmine learned from her older brother came from experience trying to beat him, or from watching. She especially admired Malcolm’s shooting form.
“He just let the ball go, and it was all net almost every time he shot the ball,” she said. “That’s something that I really tried to watch with him. Although early in my career my shot did not look like his, now I’m working on it more with repetition.”
Malcolm has not yet been to Minneapolis to visit his sister on campus, but Jasmine said he will be making a trip to see her this season. She said he may even move to Minnesota.
For now, Malcolm watches Jasmine’s games on TV or online with their parents in New York, able to see the Division I basketball career he helped nurture with intense competition and sibling love. Jasmine appreciates knowing she always has someone cheering, even from afar.
“It’s very cool,” Jasmine said. “He’s one of my best friends. I can go to him about anything. And he has somebody he can watch and support. Even though we’re still far away from each other and I don’t see him as often, we can get in contact and we’ll talk about the games.”
Story by assistant director of athletic communication Justine Buerkle
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