Accidental Perfection

  • More Frank Mason. I can’t get enough. Frank Mason won every player of the year honor. The best player in college basketball. This was accidental perfection. An amazing story.

    Trey Burke. A poster in the last week or so referenced Trey Burke. We watched Trey Burke shoot us out of the NCAA tourney in 2013 – the 142nd ranked Rivals player. We wondered, why can’t we find a Trey Burke?

    Coincidentally, we did … in our 2013 recruiting class.

    With Michigan, Trey Burke fit what John Beilein was recruiting. While Burke’s fame and skill were certainly a surprise, his role was not. At Michigan, he would fit right in.

    At Kansas, Frank Mason was one big accident. Meaning, Frank Mason should never have happened.

    Frank Mason arrived in the same recruiting class as Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Brannen Greene, Wayne Selden and Conner Frankamp. Yet Mason will go down as the one of the greatest Jayhawks in history, leaving the other bigger names in the 2013 in the dust.

    When we signed Mason, he was the 132nd rated player … here’s the [KU Sports story on Mason’s signing] ( He chose Kansas over Alabama, Rutgers, Virginia Tech, UTEP and South Carolina. No major programs were knocking.

    How did it happen?

    Completely by accident. This was no predetermined “diamond in the rough” that Bill Self sought out and snagged, eschewing other bigger names – knowing that this lower ranked player was the player he wanted. Nope. Mason was an afterthought. Mason was the guy we got, because we were stuck, and because we didn’t get other guys.

    Credit goes to Self for signing him, and his staff for identifying him and signing him. In fact, Self played him immediately. Mason had a solid game his freshman season in the Champions Classic against Duke at the beginning of the season. But he simply would not have been here had just one of a litany of other players chosen Kansas.

    In September of 2012, Self famously said we needed “a point guard.” All that while Conner Frankamp was signed as a point guard and Naadir Tharpe on the roster – a foreshadowing, perhaps. But it was clear and concise.

    Bill Self had missed on multiple, higher ranked point guards. Guys all of us were wanting. My personal favorite was Demetrius Jackson. But everyone of them said no. Here is the amazing list ahead of Frank Mason, that Kansas’ name was associated with at one time or another.

    1. Andrew Harrison, ranked #5: Went to Kentucky. One and done. Big target, but we weren’t among his final choices.

    2. Kasey Hill, ranked #10: Went to Florida. Four year player. We fell out of Hill sweepstakes before the final decision.

    3. Rysheed Jordan, ranked #20: Went to St. Johns. Played two seasons. Now charged with attempted murder. We were never seriously in the mix as he favored east coast schools.

    4. Anthony “Cat” Barber, ranked #27: Went to NC State. Played three season, turned pro. Major target. We were rumored to be in the driver’s seat. Rumors of some odd stuff regarding his recruiting visit to Louisville.

    5. Demetrius Jackson, ranked #38: Went to Notre Dame. Played three seasons, turned pro. Another major target. It was Kansas or Notre Dame.

    6. Chris Jones, not ranked (JUCO Transfer): Went to Louisville. Played two seasons. Would have been a top 40 ranked guy for sure. Some had him higher than Barber. Another major target. Charged with rape. Charges dismissed, but not a good situation.

    7. Roddy Peters, #48: Went to Maryland. Played one season, then went to South Florida and was booted; then to Nichols State. We had very late interest after the misses on Barber, Jones, and Jackson. He chose Maryland, after Mason committed to Kansas. It appears we took the bird in the hand as Peters was delaying. Not a pure point.

    8. Stevie Clark, #70: Went to Oklahoma St. Played one season. Got dismissed from team, sued Travis Ford. Transferred to Oakland. A complete disaster. We were not in late.

    I was the unfortunate soul who coined the “no rank Frank” complaints. Frank went from a poster child for recruiting misses, to my favorite Jayhawk of all time. Easy transition.

    Interestingly, Nigel Williams-Goss, the Gonzaga PG, was in this class as well.

    Has this caused Kansas to change how it recruits? Has Frank Mason changed Kansas recruiting? Not at all, it appears. Kansas still targets the highest ranked players. Those are the best bets, right? For every Frank Mason there are hundreds of strikeouts on guys that are ranked outside the top 100 at the time they signed.

    The next diamond in the rough is sure to be an accident. But sure glad we got this one. The stars and planets aligned perfectly to give Kansas its best point guard ever, and one of the best Jayhawks of all time.

  • @HighEliteMajor said:

    For every Frank Mason there are hundreds of strikeouts on guys that are ranked outside the top 100 at the time they signed.

    Cogent point. It reminds me of the time an appliance repairman was talking to my father-in-law and my FIL said, “I sure miss those old refrigerators. I had one that lasted 30 years. They don’t make 'em like they used to.” The repairman said, “Yeah, fixing those things kept me in business. Ever notice how many didn’t last 30 years?”

    The point is, we notice exceptions like that refrigerator–or Frank–after they prove exceptional. But there aren’t all too many of those exceptions, and they are awfully hard to spot at the beginning.

  • IIRC, didn’t Frank Mason have to reclassify as well because of his grades?

  • @Eric-san I believe App. St. had a coaching change and Frank asked for his release from his LOI and App. St. refused so Mason went to prep school to get out of his LOI and started picking up interest from major conference schools that summer.

  • @Texas-Hawk-10 Wasn’t that DG that had a LOI to App st.?

  • @Eric-san Yes, I always get their backgrounds switched up since neither one should have ended up at KU.

  • He had committed to Townsend but had to come out due to course work issues, I believe he had failed a class in his senior year. Then he joined a military high school for one year.

  • Very minor thing to comment on but the KUsports article only citing the Rivals ranking is silly. Jerry Meyer was touting Mason HARD when he committed to KU. Saying KU got a steal etc… Not sure his 247 ranking at the time but he ended up #52. ESPN and Scout didn’t even rank him which is absurd. Though with ESPN it’s that they didn’t rank post grads, possible that they still don’t. However I don’t check ESPN much because they are a joke and the worst of the recruit ranking websites.

    Oh and the Harrison twins were perceived OADs, but they did stay a 2nd year at UK.

  • I do believe that if Newman wasn’t on the roster Self would have landed a PG in this class. Still it was rough missing on a bunch again this year. At least Jacobs is on board for 19. Hopefully the staff can land some good guards in 18.

  • @HighEliteMajor so glad we didn’t land the Harrison twins. They seemed to be polar opposites of Frank in disposition. Punks.

  • @HighEliteMajor …and Frank declares he would trade all those honors for one Jayhawk National Championship. A very rare nugget, that kid.

  • @HighEliteMajor said:

    Yet Mason will go down as the one of the greatest Jayhawks in history

    I’m trying to be objective, but I am thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis close to saying he is THE greatest Jayhawk in history.

  • @HighEliteMajor I think Bill has recruited the guys he wants over the rankings for years.

    Look at Embiid. I can’t even remember the guy who started in front of him that went to Kentucky now. Bill and staff found Embiid as well. Definitely Frank is an amazing find, but I think the staff found exceptional talent that was under recognized twice that year.

    The difference is that a. Frank was short b. Frank was from the Petersburg area, which isn’t on recruiters maps, and c. he had academic issues.

    In Embiid’s case, he was a. a backup to a high level recruit b. played for only 3 years c. an international player if anyone had a prejudice there.

    I think all of these are worthwhile looking at as vectors that are under recruited. There is a science to this diamond in the rough business.

  • @approxinfinity Dakari Johnson…

  • @REHawk that wasn’t very nice!😉

  • @REHawk It wasn’t Dakari Johnson, it was Chris Walker who ended up at Florida.

  • @REHawk that’s the guy! Thanks.

    And here’s the thing about Frank. If you watch his play at high school or his play his freshman year, it was clear that his handles were better coming in than all those other guys.

    His work ethic made him a legend but his ball handling was already there. And after the ball handling of Tyshawn, EJ and Naadir seeing Frank protect the rock and his intensity in the Kentucky loss was like a gale of fresh air blowing through a moldering old church. I could not have asked for a better answer to the problems of the previous generation of KU guard play, even then, and I have to believe that they saw those dimensions of Frank’s game and knew them to have the potential to be dominant qualities.

  • @nuleafjhawk


  • @approxinfinity Embiid is another case if KU getting lucky in recruiting. Norm Roberts was the guy who identified Embiid when he was playing behind Chris Walker and was recruiting Embiid to Florida when Danny Manning accepted the Tulsa job and Self brought Norm back to Lawrence and Norm then sold Self on Embiid to Kansas.

    Bill Self really has gotten extremely lucky over the past few years in recruiting with players falling into his lap because of coaching changes or other weird situations.

    KU does not land the Morris twins unless Calipari takes the Kentucky job, KU doesn’t get Jeff Withey without Lute Olsen’s sudden retirement, KU doesn’t land Josh Selby without Bruce Pearl running afoul of the NCAA rules, KU easily could’ve lost Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor had they chosen to leave after being ruled partial qualifiers, Mason doesn’t end up at KU without his academic issues, and Graham doesn’t end up at KU without App. St. refusing to grant his release from his LOI after they fired their coach at the time.

    Obviously some of these guys worked out better than others, but that’s still 9 recruits who have ended up at KU in the past 10 years (not including any potential recruits in this class) that KU realistically could and in a lot of cases, should have missed out on, but the basketball recruiting gods have frequently smiled on Self and gifted him with players he shouldn’t have ended up with.

  • @Texas-Hawk-10 very lucky yes. Very good at being lucky 😀

  • @Texas-Hawk-10 As I pretty well recall, when Joel first immigrated to Florida he played second fiddle to Dakari Johnson; but then transferred the next season in order to glean more game experience (IMG Academy?). Johnson roared off to Lexington, but I think it was Norm Roberts who had unearthed Embiid and evaluated his glowing potential. Our coaching staff brought him in as something of a project, then literally the entire hoops world was astounded at his early progress. Even eventual Laker Tarik Black seemed happy to mentor him, then agreeably stepped aside when Joel was ready to start and shine. Meanwhile, Dakari had a so/so tenure at Kentucky contrasted with his high school promise.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Great post.

  • @REHawk Dakari Johnson never went to IMG. Embiid came over, was stuck behind Chris Walker and transferred to The Rock School in Gainesville on the advice of Norm Roverts because Norm was recruiting him to Florida first before Norm got hired back to KU.

  • Thanks for the link HEM I got a kick out reading all those comments. I would like to say that my comment on that thread, although sarcastic in intent, mentioned noticing his rebound positioning and ability on youtube. LOL probably only time I was right that year!!

    In reading all the comments tho it makes me realize that perhaps we should avoid being to negative on recruits. If nothing else less shame when they prove us wrong the way Frank has!

  • @Kubie

    I will never bash a kid that commits to KU. I’ll be honest though. Like with Thomas Allen if he picks KU, it’s not to contribute next year. He could be a transfer candidate, but we know Self likes to fill the roster. No harm in that imo, Self usually finds the kid a nice place to land.

  • @BShark

    Given how well Allen shoots it I hope we get to see him here and developing. My Brewster connections said they think he’s a good kid who will work hard. They think the key to his situation at KU is how quickly he can establish his role. Will he try and play PG or stick to his more natural role

  • @BeddieKU23

    Definitely. If he comes to KU I hope he toughs it out. Honestly I hope he redshirts next season, because that means he is really committed for the long haul at KU. I think in his JR/SR years, he will be a really nice all around player with the way this staff has developed guards.

    Pretty much every player that actually played and redshirted has been a smashing success during Self’s KU tenure. Releford, Lucas, Brady. Some would argue Jamari is a disappointment but considering he was pretty much NR out of HS I do not.

    Only counting actual redshirts not transfers that had to redshirt a year.

  • @approxinfinity

    Much like great players, great coaches don’t need luck…they make their own luck.🌟

  • Let’s not forget that Mason was a volume shooter and scorer in HS and had to change his MO and buy into Coach Self’s system. It worked out well for Frank.👍

  • @BShark Depends on your viewpoint. Danny was expected to be Danny. Frank was expected to fill a spot on the floor and not throw games away. Who rose above expectations? Don’t get me wrong - I love Danny, but Frank’s stepped it way up. I think he has a whole bunch of hardware that Danny doesn’t have too.

  • @nuleafjhawk not going to compare, just remember, Danny stayed.

  • @Texas-Hawk-10 Did I say Dakari Johnson went to IMG? Nope. I do think Embiid might have finished there, but could be wrong. I am still not convinced about that Walker business. Will you buy me a beer if you are wrong?

  • @Texas-Hawk-10 Okay, I spent a few minutes on wikipedia. Embiid first sat behind D. Johnson at Montverde Academy, then transferred to The Rock for his senior season. Your guy Walker attended Holmes County High School. Forget the beer. Just get your stories straight.

  • Having a night to sit on it, Thank You Devonte Graham for choosing to come back and finish your career here. Frank Mason probably was a huge influence in that decision. We most likely have Frank to thank for this…

  • @Crimsonorblue22 ?? So did Frank…?? I’m not saying Frank is THE best - just that he should be considered in that conversation. Everybody is going to have their own opinion - there is no conceivable way to measure who is/was the actual best.

  • @nuleafjhawk oh I just meant Danny could have gone to the draft. I love them both and hate comparing, but yeah it’s everyone’s own view.

  • @BeddieKU23

    Momma Graham too.

  • @BShark mommas are important!

  • @Crimsonorblue22 I still miss Mario.

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