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LA Lakers Champion And Master's College Alumnus Honored

BasketballFrom Master's News Service

Basketball standout Mike Penberthy will become the first Master’s College athlete to have his number retired during a halftime ceremony tonight at Bross Gymnasium.

Penberthy, who starred for Master’s from 1993-97, also played two seasons for the Los Angeles Lakers (2000-02) and was part of the their NBA championship team in 2000-01. The sharpshooting 6-feet-3-inch guard averaged 4.9 points per game in the NBA.


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As a Mustang, his numbers are a bit more audacious.

Penberthy finished his collegiate career as TMC’s career leader in points (2,616), 3-pointers made (444), free throws made (516) and free throw percentage (.878) – all of those records still stand. Penberthy also stands second in career assists (585) and field goals made (828).

Penberthy averaged 19.7 points per game at Master’s, helping lead the Mustangs to a 108-28 record over four years. In 1994-95 – Penberthy’s sophomore season – the Mustangs posted a 31-5 record and advanced into the elite eight of the NAIA national tournament. That season, he led the NAIA with a 90.9 percent free throw percentage. In his final two collegiate seasons, Penberthy was named a first team NAIA All American.

What made Penberthy so special – and what ultimately became his calling card in the NBA – was his ability to shoot from long distance. Penberthy’s smooth jumper and quick release routinely stretched defenses. Despite the pressure of constant double teams, he found room to shoot and score.

“Mike had incredible confidence in his shot,” said Master’s Sports Information Director and Registrar Don Gilmore. “Even with a guy in his face he could score consistently. He would go out to 25 or 30 feet, no problem. Some defenders wouldn’t even follow him out that far. But his reputation definitely preceded him. Even when teams chased him all over the place, looking to stop him, he still put up huge numbers.”

So prolific was Penberthy from behind the 3-point line that his record total of 444 career 3-pointers made is twice as many his nearest competitor. For three years straight, Penberthy set the school record for 3-pointers made in a season. In 1994-95, as a sophomore, he made 125. As a junior, he upped his record to 127. As a senior, he netted 141.

To put those numbers into perspective, the nearest player to cracking the top three in 3-pointers made in a season is Joe Deister, whose best season came in 2004-05, when he made 90.

Gilmore said Tuesday’s jersey retirement is the start of something new for the college, but that such honors wouldn’t be bestowed often.  

“This is a new tradition for the college,” he said. “It probably won’t happen on an annual basis like our Hall of fame induction. It will be a lot less frequent. It will be pretty rare.”

In Penberthy’s case, the honor is fitting.