Mason May Be KU's Direct Hit

  • Frank Mason. Electric. Tough. Under control. The dude knocks down 11 of 12 free throws on a big stage. Fearless. No turnovers. Heck, Shulman and Vitale got the cue cards pre-made, referring to Mason as a “bulldog” at all the right times.

    Ranked 131st with Rivals when he committed to Kansas, Mason jumped up to #76 by the final rankings. By comparison, Tyshawn was #77; Tharpe #92. Mason, at #76, was obviously not a highly ranked player. Not a guy you’d expect to come in and contribute significantly in his first season at a place like Kansas. His signing was dismissed to a large degree. The afterthought in the class. It might be a bit premature, but maybe, just maybe, KU scored a direct hit on a player that was not near its top choice. Maybe we got a player that will absolutely blow away his ranking. Has that ever happened for Self while at KU? And no, you can’t answer “Brady Morningstar.”

    I am a rankings guy – that’s no secret. I’m sold. The logic of it sells me. I have bought into the undeniable probability of success related to the rankings. I’m not a “hope” guy. I’m an “odds” guy. I want to know the percentage chance of success. I base my life on that. Most of you may remember this … Robin Smith on the site gave a great rundown of the players that exceeded their rankings from 100 – 150 range over a 5 year period. He was, I think, trying to refute my point on rankings. But he suddenly became my buddy. When looking at all of the names he found, it worked out to be 13.3%. Right, only 13.3% of those players, over 5 year period, exceeded their rankings. Some guys nit-picked it. Found a few more supposedly. So maybe it’s 14.1%. Whatever. Score one for Rivals. You really don’t expect guys in that range to be top starters, and certainly not for Kansas.

    You’ve heard it before on Mason. He wasn’t KU’s top point guard choice. Probably our 7th choice, really. Andrew Harrison, Kasey Hill, Rysheed Jordan, Anthony Barber, Demetrius Jackson, and Chris Jones all said “no thanks” to Kansas before we settled on Mason. He was the last resort back-up plan.

    One of the beauties of the site is that all of the homers come out to play on commitment days. When Mason committed, we heard “diamond in the rough”, “Self pulled one over on everyone”, “rankings don’t matter”, “a gem”, “Self saw something in this kid” – someone I recall posted “Wow, so excited.” I’m sure that was a woman. And the best one was the comparison to Sherron Collins. Heck, Bedore did an article on the claimed comparisons. But really, most who posted were skeptical. I was just cynical.

    But why was I cynical? I was like Pavlov’s dog. I’d been conditioned. Actually, I was just flat out scarred – scarred by the horrors of low-ranked signings of the past… I had been through the postings following the Thomas, Appleton, Traylor, Anderson, Lindsay, Lucas, Adams and Doyle commitments. Each and every one of them. Adams was Dwayne Wade, right? Traylor was another TRob. Someone saw similarities between Lucas and Markieff. Ugh.

    Heck, I sat and debated with some guy who said he was Milton Doyle’s brother for goodness sakes. Told him his brother would end up transferring. Felt bad about that. Still do. I tried to explain to him it was nothing personal, but I think he said he wanted to “cap my a**” in a post, before it was deleted. Something like that (probably led directly to the Facebook policy, so I apologize).

    But the critics of the signing, me included, weren’t necessarily wrong, per se. I mean if you’re up by six with the ball, and 10 seconds to go, you don’t jack up a 3. You’re not right because it goes in. This signing was a stretch at the time. The #131 player. The fact – the undeniable truth – is that Mason was Self’s backup plan multiple times over. If Demetrius Jackson commits, there is no Frank Mason. If Chris Jones says yes, Mason is at Rutgers. But all that doesn’t matter now.

    As someone posted today, that I read – “let’s not crown him yet.” Fair enough. Let’s not. But he isn’t who we thought he was, right? He will have ups and downs, I’m sure. He might have 5 TOs in a game. He might go Tyshawn on us from time to time. Norm Roberts sounded like he was a bit surprised by Mason’s play when he spoke today on the radio, saying that Mason throws it around the gym a bit every so often. So we’ll see. But he looks fantastic so far. He’s got the look of the perfect point guard.

    The start of the season is seriously as good as Christmas ever was when I was a kid. New presents everywhere. This guy might be the best surprise of them all, with four full years of enjoyment.

    So does this change anything? Should this lower ranked guy bursting on the scene alter our perspective of things? Nope. Not at all. Rivals still rules. Mason just appears to have beaten the odds. And it’s an absolutely beautiful thing.

  • HEM, It is good you are still blogging. My Mason moment was when Self went to the Tharpe, Selden, Ellis, Wiggins lineup, keeping Frank in for that 3 minute stretch at the end, my excitement was akin to watching Tharpe given the keys at end of the OSU game last year. Mason was more than equal with this group and had the most confidence and least fear of all on the court. It was one of those KU fan moments when we all say, "Wow, Bill knows what he’s doing, " All of us are Monday morning Quarterbacks, JoJo shooting the 3, Frank starting the last shot of the half 10 secs. too early, but as each of my Jayhawk customers came into my store, all of them mentioned Frank Mason first in the conversation. I hope Wiggins wins every award, but inside the KU nation, the team will always be more important, I did love that Wiggins became the hero at the end, but all of those plays started with Ellis rebounding and throwing great outlets. I was worried that Self would look long and hard to find an answer to the youth problem, I’m less worried now.

  • @HighEliteMajor - Here’s what I take away from your insightful post:

    YOU’RE the one who got us all banned from the " other " place.


  • Live free or die.

  • Awesome, HEM. I like how you call it straight and don’t hide behind fears of not running with the pack, or fears that drive you to running in the pack. You have your own interpretations of the game, and that is what makes your postings so valuable. You don’t just regurgitate other people’s words.

    I was on the early bandwagon for Mason. Not because I knew he would become a big asset to KU basketball. Because of my own philosophy on what PGs should be, and in my books, usually the players equipped to be good PGs are not 6’5" or so.

    I think my longest posts on the old KUSports site involved me defending small PGs. I remember blowing up threads with Jaybate-length multi-posts about axis basketball and how the game is played on both X and Y.

    My thrill began when we landed Tharpe. At the time, he didn’t represent everything I want in a PG, but he was closer than we have had in quite some time. Mason was the next step and has all the tools for what I want running point. He’s the reason I feel optimistic about our tournament chances for the next 4 years!

    I had to change my diaper several times in that Duke game. I was in shock and total bliss at the same time; finally CS gets it! When he went with both PGs in the game, I knew he finally understood the X-axis. Finally he’s on board to bringing in the right type of players at PG! He finally backed off the common thought that height is always the most-important factor when recruiting perimeter players. In my books, on the perimeter, height comes in third or maybe fourth. I do like height, but never at the cost of other factors that make a bigger impact.

    We’ve all been trained to think height is what counts. Height isn’t what makes Julius Randle effective. Sure, he holds his own in height, but it is his explosiveness, strength and skill that makes him the dominant player he is going to be this year in college basketball… and he is a post player! He would still dominate if he was 6’5"!

    Think of Mason as another Randle… except he is the PG version. Mason would whip Randle in a heads up with both running point, Randle would whip Mason in a heads up with both running at power forward. Both have the same toolset for success at their own position.

    Both players are sitting in the gravy train this year because of the rule interpretation changes. Both will be able to bully their way into proximity to the rim and both will be able to easily create the space they need to score. Height will not be a factor for these two (for the most part). Mason can shoot around the bigs in the post just like Randle can. The effective pathway to the rim is the Z-axis, and there are several Z pathways to the goal at all times, you can use more of the X or Y axis to connect to one of them. Hey, Mason can jump, so he won’t be all X-axis. Randle can jump, but he doesn’t use all Y to leap over players, he uses plenty of X.

    I’m looking forward to a great year of college basketball, and I’ll enjoy all the athleticism we have, but I’ll get an extra kick out of watching Mason use his tools to score on bigs. That is a special part of the game that I always love watching. We always have the classic big-on-big battles. Mason brings the little-on-big and I can’t wait to see more!

  • I wish Hakim Warrick had been a couple of inches shorter.

  • Slayr-You sound as though a student of Fanuc. And HEM, I thought Mason & Ellis were the 2 most consistent Alpha’s on the floor for both half’s Tuesday. You dead-on bullseyed yet another one. Just curious though, you ever go Pheasant hunting? With or without a dog?

  • The whole game without commercials.

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