Frank Mason had planned to play college basketball at Towson, a program that lost 41 straight games before snapping the streak last season.
Monday, Mason decided to play for Kansas, which is basically as far as you go can on the Division I spectrum.
“It’s crazy,” Mason said. “It’s something I dreamed of. I never thought I would end up at Kansas.”
It’s not that Mason doubted his ability to play at the high-major level. Rivals.com ranks him as a three-star prospect, No. 131 in the 2013 class, and the 5-foot-11 point guard might put himself a few notches higher.
“I think I’m underrated on the scouting services,” said Mason, who played high school basketball in Petersburg, Va. “I’m just a winning person. I had two state championship appearances. I led the state of Virginia in scoring multiple times.
“As far as a player, I get my teammates involved and find the open players. I just make the winning plays.”
Grades reportedly contributed to Mason’s light recruiting interest out of high school, and he didn’t achieve the scores necessary to enroll at Towson, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Mason decided to reopen his recruitment after Kenny Johnson, the assistant coach who recruited him to Towson, left for Indiana. He is spending this season at Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Va., to improve his academic standing.
“It’s done a lot academic-wise and helping me become more of a better person, seeing things different,” Mason said. “This school has helped a lot.”
Reclassifying to the 2013 class also gave Mason a chance to boost his stock on the AAU circuit. Ty White, director of the Team Loaded AAU organization, said Mason caught the attention of schools that might have overlooked him the first time.
“He was a high-major kid already, to be honest with you,” White said. “People really hadn’t had a chance to see him on the circuit until this summer.”
“I think I can do as well as Sherron did at KU. I do,” said Mason, a 5-foot-11, 180-pounder from Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Va., who has been compared physically to former KU great Sherron Collins.
“I’m ready to come in and be point guard on a national championship team,” Mason added in a phone interview.
…Mason, who was offered a scholarship by KU in July shortly after he exploded for 50 points in an AAU game, believes he can play with the best.
“I don’t care about rankings,” he said. “I work hard every day. I get in the gym whenever I can to work on my game. As point guard, I try to get my teammates involved. I attack the rim and knock down the jumper and feel I can guard the other team’s point guard.”
Mason, who visited KU last weekend, returned to Virginia to speak with his parents before gobbling up Bill Self’s scholarship offer.
“I chose KU because of its tradition, coach (Bill) Self’s winning percentage and the type of players they have there,” Mason said. “I want to align myself with players of that ability and character. They are all the type of people I want to be around.
“It’s a great program, from academics to basketball. I talked with the players a lot and knew it was the right place for me. It’s a great program. They’ve won a lot of Big 12 championships, made a lot of Final Four appearances and have multiple national championships. It’s a dream come true.”
He’s looking forward to teaming with White, a fellow Virginia native.
“We are very close. We play summer ball together,” Mason said. “Andrew is a great kid on and off the court. He can shoot, attack and finish.”
Just hours after publicly declaring his commitment to Kansas, Frank Mason was back on the campus of Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Va., hustling to make it to evening formation.
No special treatment. No big ceremonies — yet. Just another military student standing with his classmates.
…It was all about finding the right fit, and the tradition of KU was a strong pull. After visiting Lawrence this last weekend, Mason talked to his parents, Frank Mason Sr. and Sharon Harrison, before making his decision.
“They broke down the academic parts, how would I be successful,” Mason said of his visit. “(Self) just said, basically, for me to come in, run the team, do as he says, and I’ll be successful.”
Mason is still relatively under-the-radar on the national scene. (He did have interest from Virginia Tech and Providence, among others.) But Massanuttens’ Chad Myers coached former Xavier guard Jordan Crawford at Hargrave Military Academy, and Myers says Mason and Crawford have similar stories.
Mason fills a potential need for Kansas. Senior guard Elijah Johnson will exit after this season, leaving Naadir Tharpe, a sophomore guard, and Rio Adams, a freshman guard, as the only players with point-guard skills on the roster. The Jayhawks could also turn to guards Ben McLemore and White, but both players appear to be more comfortable on the wing.
Mason is the third commitment in the Jayhawks’ 2013 recruiting class. KU will also add Conner Frankamp, a Wichita guard, and Brannen Greene, a 6-foot-7 swingman from Forsyth, Ga. Green is ranked No. 22 in Rivals’ top 150, while Frankamp slots in at No. 28.
Today, I'm going to look through the other end of the telescope and introduce you to five teams that, for whatever reasons, have chosen to play several very tough opponents. Any one of these teams could be a candidate to "pull a Michigan State." Last season the Spartans opened 2011-12 by losing consecutive games to North Carolina (on an aircraft carrier) and Duke (in Madison Square Garden). It's difficult to say "Look out for Team X!" when they're 0-2, so no one said that about Tom Izzo's team. Yet by March, the Spartans were a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
…3. Kansas Jayhawks
Bill Self may have lost the bulk of his offensive production in the form of Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor, but the coach has allowed little room for the new guys to crawl before they walk. In their second game of the season, the Jayhawks will face Michigan State in Atlanta as part of the Champions Classic. KU's also signed up to play 25 percent of the Pac-12: Washington State and Oregon State will take on Kansas in Kansas City, while KU's old Big 12 foe Colorado will pay a visit to Lawrence on Dec. 8.
Speaking of old Big 12 foes, Self's team will face the winner of a CBE Classic game between Texas A&M and Saint Louis (also in KC). And did I mention the game against Ohio State in Columbus on Dec. 22? I have no doubt that Jeff Withey and this defense can carry Kansas a long way, but the offense will be tested early and often.
ESPN Insider Gasaway ($)
CBS College BBall Previews: Top 100 players (Withey #18, McLemore #27, Johnson #51)
When Suns power forward Markieff Morris walked to the van after the Suns’ intra-squad scrimmage Saturday, he threw the his Disney Princess backpack over his shoulder and marched out of UC San Diego’s RIMAC Arena with chest held high.
Although Morris is entering his second year, he’s technically still a rookie to the other Suns players and staff members because his first year took place during the 2011-12 shortened 66-game season. So the Suns’ vets have the pleasure of torturing Morris for just a little longer.
Like Suns rookie Kendall Marshall, who was rocking a Justin Bieber backpack instead, the Suns players continue to prank the 6-9 Morris.
But that’s cool with the second-year man. He carries himself as if the joke is on them.
Because it just might be.
Although the Suns are just one practice removed from training camp, Morris is oozing confidence in everything that he does. Throughout camp, Morris looked amongst the most game-ready and comfortable of his teammates in Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry’s new offensive system.
“In the summertime, I worked on offensive and defensive stuff and I watched a lot of film of my game last year and my flaws,” Morris said. “So I think I became a smarter player.”
In the intra-squad scrimmage Saturday, Morris’ 23 points led Team White and only trailed Jared Dudley’s 33 points for game-high honors. The former Jayhawk demonstrated eagle-eyed accuracy from the perimeter, as well as some new creative one-on-one moves in his repertoire.
Last year, Morris left the impression that he believed that he was NBA player. Now he knows that he is one.
Thunder center Cole Aldrich has waited two seasons for this moment.
He had busted his tail to improve his game, taking the court three hours before tipoff on every game day during the season.
He would leave the court drenched in sweat after either playing 3-on-3 pickup games against teammates or executing an array of conditioning and post drills against assistant coach Mark Bryant.
Aldrich consistently excelled whenever he was assigned to the Tulsa 66ers in the NBA Developmental League. During the offseason, he picked the brain and observed the work habits of veteran forward Nick Collison when they trained together back on their college campus at Kansas.
Aldrich awaited the chance to prove himself, playing in just 44 regular-season games his first two years. That moment arrived this offseason when the Thunder did not re-sign veteran free agent center Nazr Mohammed.
10/8/12, 8:28 PM
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The University of Kansas men’s and women’s basketball teams will celebrate the beginning of the 2012-13 season at the 28th annual Late Night in the Phog Friday, Oct. 12, in Allen Fieldhouse.
More info from KUAD
Kansas 2012-13 Schedule
Big 12/College News
Webster Bank signed on this summer to become a major sponsor of University of Connecticut athletics and help build a new basketball training center, but UConn has refused to say how much the bank is spending or what exactly it will get in return for its millions.
Though it is a public institution, UConn keeps some of the financial information about its athletic fundraising secret by using private entities.
Many universities use private tax-exempt foundations to raise money, but what separates Connecticut from other schools is a measure passed by the state legislature a decade ago that exempts the University of Connecticut Foundation from state freedom of information laws. Also, the state Supreme Court in February ruled the school can keep its lists of donors and season-ticketholders private, saying they amount to trade secrets.
Now the school is asserting that it doesn't have to release the details of marketing deals, such as the one with Webster, because it is not actually a party to the contracts. The deal is signed by Webster and IMG College, a marketing firm that has an agreement with UConn and more than 70 other schools to administer licensing, media rights and content on school athletic websites.
"The financial arrangement is between Webster and IMG College, not us," UConn spokesman Mike Enright said.
UConn last week announced it has $22 million in pledges and cash on hand for the basketball facility and needs $10 million more to break ground.
A spokeswoman for Webster, which agreed to the sponsorship deal and made a separate gift for the training center, said it is the bank's policy not to release details of significant investments.
ESPN Tip-Off Marathon schedule
2012-13 Early Season Events List
Just a week after his former school landed two top-100 prospects, Trent Johnson made a statement of his own at TCU.
Karviar Shepherd, a four-star center from Prime Prep (Tex.), pledged to the Horned Frogs on Monday evening.
“I picked TCU because it was close to home and I really like the coaching staff,” Shepherd told Reggie Rankin of ESPN.com. “They do a really good job of improving bigs like they did at Stanford with the Lopez twins.”
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