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Friday, November 22, 2013

Point proved: Ex-Towson signee Frank Mason off to good start with KU

Kansas guard Frank Mason drives around Iona guard Isaiah Williams during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Frank Mason drives around Iona guard Isaiah Williams during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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A failing grade in a government class his senior year at Petersburg (Va.) High School cost Frank Mason a spot on Towson University’s basketball team — the one that meets Kansas University in a 7 p.m. tip today in Allen Fieldhouse.

“It was a bad thing at the time. It’s a good thing now,” reflected Mason, who, after attending Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Va., last year, wound up a member of KU’s outstanding recruiting Class of 2013.

He had initially signed a letter of intent with Towson in November of 2011 but did not qualify academically.

“I always knew I could play at any program and with anybody,” noted the 5-foot-11 combo guard. He averaged 17 points and eight assists a game for (30-4) Massanutten after going for 27.1 ppg his senior year at Petersburg, where his teams had a combined four-year mark of 78-4.

“Towson ... I felt like I was close to home. The coaches pulled me in, told me what I wanted to hear. I thought I was going to go to Towson for four years and it was going to be my program.”

Instead, Mason emerged on the AAU circuit in July of 2012 and ultimately gobbled up a scholarship offer from KU’s coaches, who saw him dominate a tournament in Las Vegas.

“After I went to military school, I never considered Towson again,” Mason said of the Colonial Athletic Association school located in Maryland, just 187 miles from his hometown.

He chose the Jayhawks over Alabama, Maryland, Louisville, Rutgers, South Carolina and Virginia Tech.

“I am glad it ended up like that,” he said of failing that government class by just “three points.”

“I guess God worked it out that way. I guess it’s meant for me to be at KU.”

Mason, who entered college as Rivals.com’s No. 76 player nationally, has averaged 9.0 points off 33.3 percent shooting (15 of 18 from the line) with eight assists, one turnover and three steals. He’s logged a healthy 18 minutes per game early in his freshman season.

“I try to be a pit bull on the ball,” Mason said. “I try to be a good defensive player, a guy always pressuring the ball.”

KU coach Bill Self, who has said all along Mason’s much better than his ranking, nonetheless was pleasantly surprised by the 185-pounder’s play in a 94-83 win over Duke on Nov. 12 in Chicago.

Mason scored 15 points on a night he calmly cashed 11 of 12 free throws.

“Before the game I’m thinking, ‘Gosh, how is he going to react? Is this stage going to be too big for him?’” Self said. “It’s like he was on the playground. He didn’t know anybody else was out there. He may have reacted the best of all our freshmen initially, and he’s been in the least game-pressure situations of all. That was fun to watch.

“He has a lot to learn,” Self quickly added of a player “we didn’t know anything about until that summer (2012) and fell in love with. He has surpassed what I thought he’d be, not from a talent standpoint, but poise standpoint. He has never played point guard. He has point guard size, but he’s always been a guy to go get his own shot. He’s done really well.”

So well that Self has used Mason and 5-11 junior Naadir Tharpe in games at the same time.

That might continue tonight versus Towson.

“Frank makes up for (lack of) height with strength,” Self said. “Naadir is not very big. They need to be pit bulls if we play them together. I know they like playing together. There are some things about it that I like, but Naadir doesn’t need to wait for Frank to change the pace. Naadir should be one to change the pace. I thought we played too slow (in 86-66 win over Iona Tuesday) until Frank got in the game. That’s something we have to talk about and correct, but they are pretty good when they play together.”

Noted Mason: “Coach just figured out he wanted to start playing me and Naadir at the same time so it’d be a faster tempo. It’s a lot of fun.”

Tharpe actually tossed a perfect lob to Mason for an alley-oop slam against Iona. Remember, that’s 5-11 throwing to 5-11 for the flush.

“I was excited (about the dunk) but I had to get back on defense,” Mason said. “It’s something I knew I could do (but) I was just wanting to get another stop.”

That kind of attitude has impressed KU sophomore Andrew White III, a native of Richmond, Va., who has known Mason for about 10 years.

“What everybody is starting to see is how he’s been since he was a kid. He’s always been tough-minded, always a workhorse,” White said. “It’s really paying dividends for him so early. I’ve never seen him back down, so I’m not surprised at what he’s done so far. He deserves it.”

Early indications suggest Mason will have quite a four-year career, which could come as a shock to the recruiting analysts.

“Somebody can commit to a high-major and all of a sudden people think they are no longer a top 100 guy, they are a top 50 guy. Somebody can commit to a low-major and people think they are no longer a top 50 guy but a top 100 guy just based on reputation and that kind of stuff,” Self said. “There’s not that much difference between guys ranked 15 and 50. It’s an inexact science. Guys mature naturally at different stages. I’m glad we got him. I think he’ll go down as one of the better incoming freshmen guards.”

And Mason is happy to be here despite the fact he says he’s fond of Towson’s players and coaches.

“I had the mindset I could play with anybody. I knew I’d be a great fit for this program,” Mason said. “It’s where I chose to come to.”

With the help of a high school government class no doubt.

Self on frosh Wayne Selden, who has averaged 10 points and 3.0 rebounds while averaging 29.7 minutes a game: “Wayne tries hard, is very unselfish with his thoughts. He’s feeling better physically. He’s gone through a period of time he’s felt great, then got nicked up a little bit, but won’t sit out (playing through minor injury). He has his legs under him now and is feeling much better physically.”

Thievery: KU has 21 steals to its opponents’ 12. “We’ve been trying to get that going for two months now,” Self said. “It’s almost like we play defensive when we are on defense. Basketball is a game of comfort zones. We need to operate in ours and get our opponent out of theirs.”

This, that: Self said he’d use the same starting lineup of Tharpe, Selden, Andrew Wiggins, Perry Ellis and Tarik Black tonight. Black, who has had foul problems in all three games, is being pushed by Joel Embiid, who went for 16 points and 13 rebounds versus Iona. ... Embiid’s dad, Thomas, will attend his second game in the fieldhouse tonight before returning to Cameroon. For a link to Thomas’ reaction to Joel scoring versus Iona, go online to http://imgur.com/sYGyDeN ... Perry Ellis has made 21 of 29 shots for 72.4 percent. ... Towson has won at home against Navy (72-45), Morgan State (95-75) and Temple (75-69) and lost at Villanova (78-44). The Tigers are led by Pat Skerry, who is 22-45 in three years at the Colonial Athletic Association school. Jerrelle Benimon, a 6-8 senior forward from Warrenton, Va., leads Towson in scoring (17.5 ppg) and rebounding (11.8). He also has 13 assists and seven blocks.

— Tom Keegan contributed to this report

Comments

Bernard Gregory 8 months ago

He doesn't feel that he has played well yet always critcal of himself.Looking forward to when he really gets going.

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Bryce Landon 8 months ago

Let's enjoy tonight's game as much as possible because it's going to be a full month before Kansas returns to Allen Fieldhouse.

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Keith Gellar 8 months ago

How does someone get a failing grade in Government class in HS? you have to be down right retarded..he either just didn't care or is no smarter than a stack of bricks..both bad choices.

glad he's producing,..else not sure why we'd want to have someone like him on the team

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Tony Bandle 8 months ago

Easy, there, Keith. It's Friday not Monday morning. Think of Frank as flunking a class but learning a life lesson, a much better situation than the opposite.

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Ron Prichard 8 months ago

This comment just ticked me off when I read it. I hope you are a much nicer guy than your post presents you as or you are incredibly rich,...else not sure why anyone would want to have someone like you as a friend.

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Suzi Marshall 8 months ago

Keith, I'm sure Mason found the Government class to be exceptionally confusing., assuming it is US Governemnt. How can you expect a 17 year old to understand things like equal justice under the law , limited government with enumerated powers derived from the people of the US, three branches of government each with equal powers. All you see coming out of goverment are special deals for various classes and absolute power from the executive branch.

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Suzi Marshall 8 months ago

I'm sure Frank, coming from Richmond, has some familial relationship to George Mason. Do you really think George Mason would be able to pass a US Gov. class today?

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Brett McCabe 8 months ago

Suzi...enough. This is a sports site. Keep the Tea Party idiocy where it belongs, back in the 1950's with Senator McCarthy.

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Suzi Marshall 8 months ago

or if you like, back in the 18th Century with George Mason.

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Brett McCabe 8 months ago

You mean the would-be confederate who died with 36 slaves? Or someone else who championed the rights of the individual?

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Ethan Berger 8 months ago

Just a heads up, very few people believed in equality and slavery isn't an institution unique to the United States.....

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Suzi Marshall 8 months ago

I get what you are saying and this is a sports page. George Washington (largest slaveholder in VA), George Mason ( the second largest slave holder in VA), and Thomas Jefferson all held slaves. Slavery has been around along time and the US paid one heck of a price for it. .Nevertheless it is our history and would love to know more about Frank Mason's roots and ties to George. Mason whose views on slavery are provided.... www.gunstonhall.org/georgemason/slave...

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Jack Wilson 8 months ago

Right, and Brett's a pinko-commie. Back to the name calling I guess.

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Bruce Beckum 8 months ago

Are you a d-bag or a troll or both? Both would be my guess.

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Benz Junque 8 months ago

It's easy. Don't attend class and/or don't turn in homework. Smart kids fail classes on lack of effort not lack of intelligence.

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Erich Hartmann 8 months ago

KEITH, DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE A MAN TO CALL SOMEONE "RETARDED"? Does your statement "someone like him" mean that you have summed up everything Frank Mason ever was, is, and ever will be in one fell swoop because of 1 failing grade? So, tell us, sir, how smart does that make YOU look?????????????????

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Ron Franklin 8 months ago

Hello Mr. Zero Mistakes. Hope you have never made any. Fortunately for you, at least the light will never shine bright enough upon you to reveal them to the public.

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Mike Bratisax 8 months ago

I remember my Senior year in high school and after having been accepted into KU, my grades went a little south.

I wonder Keith, why you are so judgmental? Someone like him? What does that mean? Basically, I thought your comments sounded extremely ignorant and not like the majority of the fan base. Why don't you switch alliance to Missouri. I'm sure they could use another antler.

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RJ King 8 months ago

Brat, didn't we all get a whiff of tiger turds as soon as we read his post?

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Justin Steele 8 months ago

We'll that didn't go like you planned it? Show some respect to people that are offended by the derogatory slander "retard". Not every child is created equally! He could of been a straight A student who just didn't grasp this one subject! He could have just been a 17 yr old kid who wasn't focused! But no one deserves second chances and people can't change right? GROW UP!

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RJ King 8 months ago

Keith - It's fascinating to learn that to be "no smarter than a stack of bricks" is actually a choice. Who knew? Let's all vow to get up each day and choose to be smarter than bricks. I know it will be difficult for some, but we can at least make the choice.

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Bernard Gregory 8 months ago

I dont know who you are but its obvious who and what you are so I end my comment there .

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Jack Wilson 8 months ago

Gary: I don't know what the ground rules are in asking questions of coach Self. Does he ever get asked a challenging question?

When he makes the comment about player rankings, why doesn't anyone ask him why he recruited multiple players ranked ahead of Mason then? His recruiting obviously parallels the rankings.

Coaches reference rankings sometimes as if they don't mean much, but 90% of the time their recruiting mirrors the rankings. And what's interesting is that when it does't -- such as early commits Woolridge and Peters, they flame out. Or if they are lower ranked, we get many of them in the spring, again as major backup plans (Lucas, Traylor, Lindsay, Anderson, Doyle, etc.).

Self says that when a player commits to a high major, his ranking may go up. The reality is, when high majors pursue a player, his ranking may go up. That factors into the rankings. When a Duke, UK, KU, UNC, etc. is all over a guy, that says something.

And the only ranking that really matters is the last one.

Mason was clearly a back-up plan. We were hard after Andrew Harrison, Kasey Hill, Rysheed Jordan, Anthony Barber, Chris Jones and Demetrius Jackson. They all committed elsewhere, and then we accepted Mason commitment.

In the final analysis, after four years, we'll be very happy with how this worked out. I would not trade Mason right now for any of those guys.

So when Self attempts to play down the rankings, it's just a façade. Just look at his two recruits for 2014, and who he is still pursuing (Turner, Vaughn, Lyle).

I always defend the rankings, because they are always the best guide we have -- not perfection -- but the best guide.

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Eric TheCapn 8 months ago

Rules? There ARE no rules!

That's a good question, Jack, but KUSports has done its Mason story and had the chance to ask that question. It would be awkward to bring up Mason's recruiting again now, unless there were a reason to write another story about recruiting or Mason, the latter of which probably won't come until next year.

Nonetheless, ask it!

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Erich Hartmann 8 months ago

Water under the bridge, HEM. The recruiting rank matters as a 89% reliable prognosticator on how well a kid "may" contribute, (as you yourself have mentioned that the other 11% exceed their ranking). If the kid is actually producing ON OUR team, at a high level...then it is time to let this particular kid's ranking go. Move on to actual analysis of each of his games. Ask Mike Kryzyewski if Frank Mason "can play as a frosh at the High Elite Major level"? Another royalty coach (Bill Self) thought he could, and pleaded with Mason to choose KU. So actually after some performance data, perhaps 2 royalty program coaches would agree that Frank Mason CAN play/produce-->as a frosh. And those 2 coaches live/die by their recruiting choices.

Maybe all this simply supports your past comments that "yes, ok, so Mason is one of the 11%". But I dont understand why you would keep pondering the recruitment of Mason, after its been proven he can play (even if the sample size is small)? But that sample size, as a frosh, is pretty positive...

(And there are no generalizations to my post regarding Mason. I am making NO statement about Lucas, Traylor, Manning, Garrett, etc...This is about Mason#76 ranked player slapping just about everyone not named Bill Self in the face with 15pts, 11-12FT vs. Duke.) Rock Chalk, Mr. Mason, and one day you may make HEM a believer as well, which is only good for KU.

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Ron Prichard 8 months ago

Erich, I don't think HEM was attacking Mason at all, but rather the statement by Self that rankings don't matter. Clearly they do, but like HEM and yourself, I think there are exceptions and that people mature at different rates, so there are always going to be busts as well as those that exceed their ranking.

I think all HEM wants is for the coaches--including coach Self--to acknowledge the rankings do mean something. KU, UK, Duke, UNC, etc, land top recruits and typically are at the top of the polls. There are exceptions, injuries, and unexplained seasons, but for the most part, teams that consistently attract the top rated recruits tend to perform better than teams with lower rated recruits.

When looking a little deeper, I think Self is actually acknowledging this. Notice that he says there isn't much difference between No.'s 15-50. He doesn't mention No.'s 1-14, because he knows those are the top flight players. The next 25 are pretty much on a level field. Then you have No.'s 51-100, followed by 101-150, etc. While #9 might not be much different than #3, or #38 might not be much different than #17, there is a difference between #3 and #38.

I would agree with HEM that coaches tend to say "ratings don't matter" when we see one of the exceptions or they get a slightly lower-rated recruit. But when they sign a top 5 recruit, they will puff out their chests (rightfully so) and talk about how great it is to get a player with that high of a ranking. The hard question to coach Self and others would simply be, "Which is it, and why?"

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Mike Bratisax 8 months ago

Nothing but softballs but that is pretty standard from the local media of all highly successful college coaches.

"In the final analysis, after four years, we'll be very happy with how this worked out. I would not trade Mason right now for any of those guys."

I have been thoroughly impressed by his play and already think he will have more impact this year than Tharpe. I think between both players, we will have the PG position covered but would still like to see us land a top 25 point guard for next year.

Also HEM, we seem to agree on the usefulness of the ranking systems but even the best will sometimes get it wrong. Trey Burke was the obvious exception of last years rankings. Coach Self has often gotten players into the NBA who were not highly ranked but it is obvious that he and the other top coaches fight it out trying to land the top rated recruits. And just as Trey Burke was an exception so was Josh Selby (although the NCAA and injuries didn't help his case) who was a top ranked player who did not live up to expectations. If only he had stayed one more year.

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Jack Wilson 8 months ago

Yep, I guess that's my point. I don't recall Self ever really being challenged by the media. This was just an example, though I understand why this might not have been the right time, or topic.

But here's a follow up -- Coach, you have just said that rankings are done a large part on reputation. Doesn't your recruiting, meaning your top targets, mirror in large part the top ranked rivals players? Why is that?

Last season I would have loved to have heard his response if the media had challenged him on the melt-down after the OSU game, or the arguable coaching errors in the Michigan game, things like that. It's really not that I want him put on the spot. It's more that I want to hear his rationale. And when addresses a topic, to be challenged on the rationale he states. It would be incredibly insightful and educational.

And Erich H., so you know, I am a believer in Mason. He seems ever bit the real deal. Trying not to act "giddy". I'd hate to have to criticize myself. But at least it's not a Milton Doyle kind of giddy.

Also, Mason is technically not one of the 11%, fyi. The number, though rough, was 13.3% (per Robin Smith's comprehensive analysis). I found the old post. And it was for players ranked 100 - 150 over a five year period. Mason was #76, but clearly he is playing as if he's a top 50 guy.

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RJ King 8 months ago

Don't you think Self avoids fully answering some of these questions in order to protect 18-22 year old kids who are arguably not (yet) professional athletes? What he does or doesn't reveal to the media helps to build trust with "his kids."

If 5 girls turn you down for the prom, do you want to emphasize that your date was your 6th choice? It's sweet if she turns out to be even hotter than the other 5. But out of respect for both yourself and the date, you wouldn't broadcast her "ranking" to the entire school. Does that analogy make sense?

These are still college kids, and I think Self feels there is no need to state the obvious.

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Tony Bandle 8 months ago

ODDITIES FROM OAKVILLE:

1] After the 2014-15 season, predicted starting line up for the 2015-16 season. Mason, Frankamp, Mickelson, a OAD to be named later, another OAD to be named later.

2] Fate is sometime the main player in life...would HCBS have a National Championship if Brandon Rush did not hurt his knee in that pick up game????

3] Movies I can't pass up if I am surfing cable..Roadhouse, Grosse Point Blank, The Magnificent Seven, Animal House, Night at the Opera [Marx Brothers], Diehard, Joe and the Volcano [I know, I know..the movie sucks but I can't help myself. It's like watching a trainwreck!!], War of The Worlds [the 50's version] and A Christmas Story.

4] It's all Frank's fault for not getting Okafor...he scared off Jones!!

5] Not that it's any less disrespectful but why in the heck didn't KU students finish off the anthen with ' Home of the Hawks." ?? "Chiefs" is disrespectful AND stupid!!!

6] Please, take a moment at 12:30 pm today and silently think about 50 years ago.

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Jack Wilson 8 months ago

Oak .. you might peruse kubuckets.com. Your insights would be greatly appreciated in that forum as well. HEM

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Steve Gantz 8 months ago

Yes Oakville, come on over! A lot of interesting stuff going on there.

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Mike Bratisax 8 months ago

White, Greene - not in the starting lineup? I simply cannot see that happening.

Point #5 - Exactly! I don't think I ever heard that chant during my time at KU (77-82) and wonder why it started.

Point #6 - Nicely stated and I think it has the proper amount of humility. Cannot help but wonder how different the world could be.

Point #7 - I know, this is just an add-on but tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Who. Kind of eerie having both 50 year anniversaries within one day of each other.

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Jack Wilson 8 months ago

If White and Greene are both here, I think they both start. Greene at the 2, White at the 3.

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Ron Prichard 8 months ago

Will Mason & Frankamp both still be around? If so, which one doesn't start? Frankamp I'm guessing?

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Jack Wilson 8 months ago

rap - I think they are both four year players, unless one tranfers. The fact that Mason is a point guard, superior ball handler would propel him ahead of Frankamp, kind of like it does now. Frankamp is more of a two, with maybe the possiblities to be a backup 1 sometime. But who know where guys are in a couple of seasons? I'd bet on Mason at PG.

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Bruce Beckum 8 months ago

As a man of modest stature myself, I've got a soft spot for the undersized guard who takes it to the rack like its his job. Like HEM, I wouldn't trade Mason for anyone. With all our huge guards, I like the option of playing small--particularly against the mid-majors. Rock Chalk!

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Waylon Cook 8 months ago

I personally am glad he failed that class! Love him!

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Ron Franklin 8 months ago

...and then it appears as if the Military School made a Soldier out of him. General Mason...haha

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Yonatan Negash 8 months ago

Selfishly, I am glad Frank Mason failed the government class. However, to refer to him as a “retard”; that’s completely ignorant at the very least.

As a former athlete, I can assure you there were classes I took but had zero interest in. To be frank, my lack of interest was reflective on the final grades received. The point is people don’t fail classes (high school or college) because their “retarded’ or unintelligent. There are many contributing variables to consider before making a stupid conclusion on someone’s inability to pass or fail a class.

For starters, I suggest you look into the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, as it describes all of the multiple intelligences as an alternative to the long-held belief that “intelligence” is only one dimension.

For instance there are:

• Musical intelligence – Frank Mason has • Interpersonal intelligence – Frank Mason appears to have, he seems to be very well liked • Linguistic intelligence – this type of intelligence we all continue to develop. In other words, this is an area we all continue to develop
• Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence –Frank Mason has

In addition, I want to point there are many factors why people may fail a class:: 1. Lack of Motivation – this is was my reason 2. Bad teachers – I’ve had a few in my life time 3. School Culture – Think about this one 4. Lack of parents involvement

The list can go on and on but I think you get the picture.

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