Frank Mason III, the senior point guard for the Kansas Jayhawks, is the leading candidate for the Wendy’s Wooden Award, which goes to the best player in men’s college basketball. He has come a long way in his four seasons under the tutelage of head coach Bill Self, who has helped him become one of Kansas’ greatest players of all-time.
In a school, that has produced the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning, Nick Collison, Paul Pierce, Drew Gooden, Mario Chalmers, Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, and many more, Mason III has solidified himself as one of the best.
After growing up in Petersburg, Virginia, Mason III signed with Towson during his senior year in high school, but because of an educational discrepancy, he was not able to attend the university located in Maryland. That is where Kansas slipped in.
Self, and the Jayhawks, found Mason III, and were able to bring him into the program. Given that he was not a McDonald’s All-American or a top-1o recruit, much was not expected of him. And his 5.5 points in 16.2 minutes per game during his freshman year did not foreshadow what was to come.
Then the 2014-15 season. Mason III became the starting point guard for Kansas, where he improved all aspects of his game. He averaged 12.6 points, 3.9 assists, while leading his team to a 27-9 (13-5 Big 12) record, and an 11th consecutive conference title. Although it was a successful season, the Jayhawks bowed out in the Round of 32 for the second year in a row, leaving something to be desired.
Mason III continued his hot play last year, partnering with Devonte Graham, clinching yet another Big 12 championship, while scoring 12.9 points and grabbing 4.3 boards per game. Kansas was the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, following a 33-5 regular season. And yet, the Jayhawks were not able to reach the Final Four once again. They were eliminated by eventual National Champion Villanova in the Elite Eight. Mason III played every single minute of the game but was unable to find his rhythm, going 1-6 from 3-point range, and committing 4 turnovers.
Now, in his senior season, he looks to be on a mission to lead his team to the promised land. Mason III, Graham, along with freshman sensation Josh Jackson, senior center Landen Lucas, and others, have clinched the Big 12 for a 13th straight season, and are currently the No. 1 team in the country with a 28-3 regular season record.
The senior point guard is averaging 20.5 points, 5.1 assists, and is hitting 49.3 (!) percent from behind the arc. Mason III, a player that does not show emotion very often, and does not let the moment get the best of him, has been the best player in the nation in 2016-17.
Even though he stands just 5’11, 190 pounds, and is not expected to be drafted in the first round of the upcoming NBA Draft, does not mean that he does not have what it takes to churn, lift, and push his team to a national title.
Quinn Cook (4.3 PPG) and Shabbaz Napier (3.5 PPG) are a couple of names that come to mind when thinking of a NBA comparison for Mason III. Cook and Napier, the former Duke and UCONN guards, respectively, are now bouncing back-and-forth between the D-League and NBA for the Mavericks and Trailblazers. Obviously neither are top point guards in the league or are going to be All-Stars, but what they did do, is lead their teams to national titles while in college.
Mason III will probably not be a big time player in the NBA because of his small stature, but before he even thinks about playing professionally, there is still one challenge remaining: reaching the Final Four and winning a championship.
He has all of the pieces around him to make a run to Phoenix and cut down the nets, and with the way he has been playing, I wouldn’t dare to bet against the quiet superstar.
Photo Credit: The Jim Rome Show.