Top Stories

JJ Mandaquit represents youth for postseason award voting

The youth representative for the NBA Social Justice Champion selection committee shares his role as a voice for a new generation.

JJ Mandaquit offers a generational perspective in voting for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award.

The Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award goes beyond what happens on the hardwood. 

The award honors a current NBA player making strides in the fight for social justice. This year’s finalists included Bam Adebayo, CJ McCollum, Karl-Anthony Towns, Lindy Waters III and Russell Westbrook. The winner will be announced on May 9 at 12 p.m. ET.

Voters for the award range from Abdul-Jabbar himself, social justice leaders across the United States, and JJ Mandaquit –  an honor that doesn’t go unnoticed for the junior guard from Hilo, Hawaii.

“To be on that panel was unbelievable. For them to allow me to put in a vote, and to talk and learn from others was great,” Mandaquit said. 

Mandaquit is one of the top prospects in the class of 2025 out of Utah Prep and serves as this year’s youth representative for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion selection committee. He also serves on the Jr. NBA’s Court of Leaders.

Despite being a junior in high school, Mandaquit’s impact exceeds his youthful presence. Mandaquit looks to give back to his community by using his platform, with the help of his family. He has organized a free youth basketball camp in Hawaii to inspire those younger than him.

“I’m fortunate enough to have a lot of young kids that look up to me. The basketball camp was to spark interest in the little kids, to show that I do care about them and I want to see them love the game and have fun.” 

The importance of this award is not lost on Mandaquit. Having a voice in the room with someone of the stature of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been an experience he is cherishing. 

“It meant a lot. To see how much he cares, and all of the stuff he continues to do off the court is pretty special.” 

Mandaquit’s (left) time with the Jr. NBA propelled his growth on and off the basketball court.

Mandaquit also offers an insightful voice on the panel, as a member of Gen-Z. 

“A lot of kids watch the NBA and we look up to [players]. To have the perspective of a younger person on the panel and see what’s important to me and others my age was very unique,” Mandaquit said.

Through his membership with the Jr. NBA Court of Leaders, Mandaquit has grown both as a basketball player, and more importantly as a person. 

“It’s an honor to be on the Court of Leaders … They are there to help you on and off the court. It’s amazing to have resources and people around you who want to see you succeed and help you grow”, Mandaquit said. 

As his basketball career continues to flourish, Mandaquit hopes he can continue to provide a message to all those who look up to him. 

“It’s important to be a good person. The basketball stuff is cool but being a good person off the court with how you carry yourself, those things matter and they go a long way,” Mandaquit said.