Monday, June 16, 2014

Flippin’ Frank Mason wows campers with gymnastics

Blue Team guard Frank Mason takes the ball to the hoop over Red Team guard Devonte Graham during a scrimmage on Wednesday, June 11, 2014 at the Horejsi Center.

Blue Team guard Frank Mason takes the ball to the hoop over Red Team guard Devonte Graham during a scrimmage on Wednesday, June 11, 2014 at the Horejsi Center.



Blue Team guard Frank Mason takes the ball to the hoop over Red Team guard Devonte Graham during a scrimmage on Wednesday, June 11, 2014 at the Horejsi Center.

Bill Self knows how to wake up his young basketball campers during any lulls in the action: Self, Kansas University’s 12th-year coach, asks sophomore guard Frank Mason to perform a gymnastics routine.

“I can tell they love it. It’s exciting to them. They just like it a lot,” said Mason, a 5-foot-11, 185-pounder from Petersburg, Virginia, referring to campers’ wild applause in response to his rapid-fire series of backflips.

“It’s something I’ve always done. It’s just easy to do ... for real. I’ve been doing it since I was like 5 or 6 years old, so whenever he tells me to do it, I just do it with no problem.”

Mason and his KU teammates signed autographs for two hours in the campers’ check-in line Sunday in the Booth Family Hall of Athletics.

He did a series of five backflips for Self’s Week One campers last Tuesday in Horejsi Center.

Friday, during a question-and-answer session at Self’s Parent-Child camp, Mason was asked for an encore, during which he went with one backflip with no hands for support.

“I don’t think I’ll do it after a game,” said Mason, aware it might be showing up the opposition. “I’ll do 20 after a national championship (victory).”

Mason, who did three backflips and followed with a slam dunk at last year’s open NCAA Tournament practice in St. Louis, might not have felt comfortable entertaining the campers a year ago. He said he has a totally different mind-set entering his sophomore season.

“I feel more comfortable all over. I just feel comfortable everywhere around Kansas, Lawrence. It’s more comfortable since I have a year of experience,” said Mason, who erupted for 16 points in last week’s Self campers game. Camp continues with a new batch of youngsters this week.

“Last year was kind of more nerve-wracking. I didn’t know what it was going to be like. This year is more fun and exciting because I know what it’s going to be like,” Mason added.

Mason, who averaged 5.5 points with 72 assists against 37 turnovers his freshman season, enters Year Two with the starting-point-guard position up for grabs following the transfer of Naadir Tharpe.

“Me and the guys, the coaches and fans, everybody else … I’m sure we all will miss him,” Mason said. “It’s sad not to have him here. We just have to move on with next year and what we have here.”

Self, who calls Mason “the best athlete on the team,” has said he doesn’t want to go with a true point guard this year except in the closing minutes of games. He wants any of several players on the court to bring the ball up and start the offensive possession.

“I think we have two good point guards, Conner (Frankamp) and Devonté (Graham). We also have me. We’ll compete every day at practice. We will make each other better by doing that,” Mason said.

He said he’s out to improve his shooting this summer. Mason hit 41.7 percent of his shots as a freshman. He went 18-of-55 from three for 32.7 percent.

“It’s very possible to become a better shooter. That’s been my focus,” Mason said. “Actually, I’ve been shooting the ball pretty well.

“Coach T (Kurtis Townsend) kind of had me change my shot around a little bit. I used to shoot the ball off the palm of my hand. Now I’ve been working on getting a little space under it and shooting it off my fingertips.

“It gives you a better feel of releasing the ball. If you shoot it off your palm, it can go anywhere, really.”

He said before this summer, “It seemed normal to me (shooting off palm). That’s how I always shot the ball. I didn’t really work on it until this summer.”

He’s not going to forget about getting easy hoops off drives to the basket.

“I’m just trying to stay aggressive and take high percentage shots, try to stay in attack mode and get good quality shots,” Mason said. Also ... “defend, rebound and steal. Do whatever coach asks me to do.”

For a video clip of Mason performing backflips at last year’s NCAA Tournament practice, go to

Sixers to trade for Wiggins?: Chad Ford of ESPN said last week the Philadelphia 76ers, who pick third in the June 26 NBA Draft, have had discussions with Cleveland about acquiring the overall No. 1 pick from the Cavs. Philly reportedly wants to make sure it lands former KU wing Andrew Wiggins. The Sixers may decide after working out Wiggins this week how much they’ll ultimately offer for the 6-7 standout. The team reportedly has offered forward Thaddeus Young and the No. 3 overall pick for rights to Wiggins. The Cavs instead might want Philly’s Nos. 3 and 10 picks.


Rodney Crain 5 years, 7 months ago

Its all fun and games till someone gets hurt, grandma used to say to us kids. 90% of Injuries to Gymnasts are either their wrists, knees or ankles. I would prefer someone who we are counting on to contribute minutes to our rotation defer to just playing basketball instead of doing back flips, especially at the request of our Head Coach. Ask yourself this if he hurts himself doing a back flip what are you going to think - Why was he allowed to do that in the first place? Why take a risk that is not necessary? If he gets hurt playing basketball or training so be it, but doing a back flip, sorry thats just foolish to me.

Phil Leister 5 years, 7 months ago

Is that a serious comment? It sure made me laugh.

Rodney Crain 5 years, 7 months ago

Your comment makes me laugh. It is an unnecessary risk. There is no athletic reason for him to do this. Like I said its no big deal till he gets hurt then everyone will wonder why he was encouraged to do it in the first place. Is the probability low that he does, yes, but it does and can happen. Why risk an injury doing something to a key part of your body that you use for basketball for laughs?

Chad Lee 5 years, 7 months ago

The probability of Mason hurting himself doing back flips is there but I would say very low. Something are just easy to people he said it himself. It is easy, unlike basketball, the risk is low maybe even as low as walking across the street. Im sure some can't understand being athletic because they never were it's not foolish just easy. Now if he takes the stairs... omg

Walter Bridges 5 years, 7 months ago

Seriously? You're comparing gymnastic routines with walking across the street? Ever hear of Kerri Strug or Shun Fujimoto ?

Both Olympic gold medal winners injured while performing routines they had practiced during years of training. How many gymnasts have been injured crossing a street? How much training is Mason doing?

Even better...Chris Lindley?

I'm sure some people don't understand how highly trained athletes get injured while skiing, competing in a sport other than the one they are being paid to play or just riding a motorcycle. But GM's do and and draw up contracts that prohibit risky behavior and limit liability if an athlete violates his contract.

Pretty sure that crossing the street is not a banned activity.

Jack Wilson 5 years, 7 months ago

The discussion here is simply related to taking unnecessary risks. NFL teams prohibit players from riding motorcycles, or skiing, or doing other activities that create an unnecessary risk. All of those activities may be easy for the participants. But the activity itself has variables that makes it riskier than simply walking or running.

Here's one I recall that we debated right here. Zach Peters was going to play football his senior season. Myself, and others, suggested it was an unnecessary risk of injury because he was an elite basketball player, had a scholarship to KU, a football injury could derail that, etc. Many folks thought that position was foolish, and said that if coach Self supported it, why should we question it?

Though I disagreed, at least there, one could argue Peters would really get enjoyment out of football. Something he'd never get to do again in his life. Cost-benefit analysis where there was at least some benefit.

Is permitting Frank Mason to do multiple back flips, etc., reasonable? Or is it, on the most basic level, just creating an unnecessary risk? I'm sure that coach Self doesn't have any medical information to prove that Mason's ACL is any more durable than the average athlete.

We can rationalize all we want -- kids do other risky things we may not know about. But why take the chance? All for something that has no value at all. If Mason flames out in hoops, he can backflip until he's 40. If he suffers a silly injury doing it, his entire basketball career path could change. Simple cost-benefit analysis where there is no benefit.

Rodney Crain 5 years, 7 months ago

I agreed with you Jack on Zach Peters. I wonder if he knew then that playing football started him down the path that ended his basketball career if he would have still done it. Silly to risk your career for no reason.

Mick Allen 5 years, 7 months ago

I agree with both Rodney and Jack, although somewhat surprised by your concern Rodney, as all your past posts would indicate you thought Frank would be little if any help at the point position.

Rodney Crain 5 years, 7 months ago

Mason is the backup for next season to me, and has the best chance to help get Graham up to speed faster, we are better with him than without him, especially since Tharpe is gone now. I still do not think he is the starter all season. I have seen too many athletes through the years throw away an opportunity doing something risky like this for no reason, one of the worse cases was Jason Williams with the Bulls riding a motorcycle. He has done ok but he had 10-15 years of NBA money in front of him. Instead he was gone in 1. Just Sad.

Walter Bridges 5 years, 7 months ago

My only comment on the Peters/football discussion was whether or not he qualified as an elite basketball player.

I didn't think so then and haven't seen anything to change my mind since.

On Mason, I would be on the side of those who think the risk was unnecessary. Maybe HCBS was looking for divine intervention to help him decide the rotation, which I seriously doubt, or he thought the risk was negligible. Personally, I would like to see the routine after a road victory over OSU next season.

Luca Rossi 5 years, 7 months ago

Its definitely a dry time in the offseason when this is our topic for discussion for the day.

Anyhow, I am on the side that this is not an issue. If it was in season or right before the season then may think twice about it but we're several months away from games. We can't expect to have these kids to be sealed in bubble wrap their whole college lives, let em have some fun if they want to. Frank says he has been doing this since he was 5 years old? That's only a few more years than he's been walking. Its not like he is learning how to do this now, I may change my mind about whether its a good idea or not if that was the case.

One thing is for sure, Self should not be asking him to do it. If something ever did happen it could turn into a big legal issue later on.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 7 months ago

There's also risk of missing a step walking down the stairs in the Towers (personal experience on my part and I was sober when it happened). Mason has been able to do these flips with ease long enough the Self doesn't view the risk as great enough to tell Mason not to the flips.

Rodney Crain 5 years, 7 months ago

Still if he gets hurt doing one, are you going to be fine that he is hurt for a month or out for the season? Its not necessary to risk it. If he gets hurt walking down the stairs that's just bad luck, if he gets hurt doing a back flip that is avoidable.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 7 months ago

It wouldn't bother me if Mason got hurt in the context that he was doing this backflip at a camp to entertain a bunch of kids. Are you also opposed to the players doing dunk contest style dunks as well because there's a risk of injury doing that as well?

Rodney Crain 5 years, 7 months ago

Hold on Let me check with Rodrick Stewart who was hurt dunking at the final four in 08.... Come on, seriously, there is no, absolutely no reason for him to be doing back flips. At a camp, at a shoot around, really wherever why risk it? Dunking the ball, that is part of the game, I would call that practice as long as it was done without all the junk that the NBA allows; over cars, people and anything else they can throw in there. Have you noticed that the Great Players in the NBA no longer participate in dunk contests anymore? Why? Rodrick just got back to me with the answer- he said - "Well you can get hurt for one reason and miss playing in one of the biggest events of your life. Why risk it"?

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 7 months ago

You're not going to convince me that Mason doing a standing back flip poses any more risk than one if the other players doing a 360 between the legs dunk which I guarantee there were KU players doing dunks similar to that purely to show off and entertain the kids. And as I said earlier, if the head coach doesn't deem doing stuff like that for the purpose of entertaining a bunch of kids a big enough injury risk to tell them not to do it, then I don't give a rat's butt what they do to entertain those kids.

Rodney Crain 5 years, 7 months ago

Thanks Aaron, your comments always make me feel better about myself LOL. There always has to be someone who suspends common sense, who don"t give a rat's butt. In a round about way you prove my point. Anyone who thinks there is no risk here proves there still are folks who think the earth is flat. Sorry I brought common sense into your world, LOL what a swing and miss.

Walter Bridges 5 years, 7 months ago

Dunking is a basketball activity/skill, back flips aren't. It really is that easy.

Mike Riches 5 years, 7 months ago

I hope to see Mason do 20 backflips at the end of next season.

Ron Franklin 5 years, 7 months ago

Walking down stairs to get to a different location is an everyday necessity to move about life and take care of business. Doing backflips isn't.

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 7 months ago

If he ever has to do a backflip to save his life he'll be ready. Will you?

Mark Lindrud 5 years, 7 months ago

I've never doubted that he isn't athletic and this obviously shows it. If he can diversify his game and minimize turnovers then he has a great shot to be the starter, but right now my money is on Conner because of his consistency and ran the offense better in addition to his outside shot.

Scott Yessen 5 years, 7 months ago

Im seeing alot of talk about Conner transfering. I dont seeing it happening this year but maybe next if he doesnt get any pt. What are you guys seeing/hearing?

Walter Bridges 5 years, 7 months ago

I disagree. Athletes are often injured when 'pushing the envelope'. Did Bob Beamon know he would beat the world record long jump by two feet in 1968 or did he break the record by putting everything he had into his jump and just went for it?

Would sports be even half as entertaining if athletes didn't strive to exceed expectations and not risk injuries because they 'knew' their limitations? I think 'true' athletes are those who know the risks but still go for it all despite them.

Chad Lee 5 years, 7 months ago

This might be a case of a bunch of old farts that have never done a flip questioning an athlete that has done them since he was a very small child;) In most risky ventures I would agree with the majority, but I have had first hand experience with this sort of thing and I guarantee it just as easy as dunking a basketball for Mr. Mason. With the kind of practices we have if he was that fragile he would have been out last year with an injury. On Peters, my hunch is pretty simple. He might have been juicing, we will probably never know. There may be a White area here to.

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 7 months ago

Way to create nasty rumors. Good work. Please, if you don't have evidence that either of these guys cheated or doped don't say anything that could damage their character. "Thumbs Down"

Rodney Crain 5 years, 7 months ago

Chad just checking have you ever landed on your head doing a back flip? It would explain a lot for me about your posts.

Chad Lee 5 years, 7 months ago

Walter I would hardly call Masons backflips an Olympic routine. I can tell you are a fan so alow me to argue my other statement. How many people get hurt crossing the street compared to doing backflips. Im guessing, but also pretty sure the street is the savage in this case.

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 7 months ago

doesn't really take into account the per capita who cross the street as opposed to the per capita who do backflips.

1% of the world's population do backflips, and 99% of the world's population cross streets. Pretty significant if you are looking for overall risk (severity of an event X probability of the event). Say he crosses the street 5000 times in a year, and he does 50 backflips in a year. I'd say that he's just as likely to be injured on a failed backflip than a failed trip across the street, maybe even more likely. Now, which injury is more likely to have a sever impact on his future ability to play basketball. It's a tough question, because being hit by a car likely would cause more damage, but doing a backflip, the most likely injury would be to the knees, ankles, feet, or head which would all directly impact his ability to play basketball.

My mental math says that doing a backflip creates far more risk than crossing the street.

Walter Bridges 5 years, 7 months ago

Thank you! Even though statistically obvious, I really didn't want to go forward with this discussion.

I will concede that after watching the video clip and the ease in which Mason did the back flips led me to believe that HCBS knew the risk of injury was minimal (though still unnecessary) at best. Maybe Mason missed his calling.

Chad Lee 5 years, 7 months ago

Mr. Allison you are correct in that my conspiracy theory should be kept to private conversation, my apologies. As for your mental math, I thought of this to. My thinking is backflips should not be an issue for someone like Mason. Since it is an issue now im thinking we are all chomping at the bit trying to wait for the season to start. RCJH!

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 7 months ago

"we are all chomping at the bit trying to wait for the season to start."

You're correct in that, sir.

The backflip argument is a tough one for me. Because I highly doubt that he'll have a serious injury doing a backflip, and I also disagree with the argument that Coach Self should restrict him from doing backflips, but with age comes wisdom and from my POV it is an unnecessary risk. Much like aggressive driving, motorcycling, skydiving, bungee jumping, etc. However, there are literally thousands of things that we do and we don't appreciate the risk. Right now, I have a 21 month old boy and he is fearless. I see everything that he does in slow-motion. In fact I see everything that's going to happen to him before it happens. Sometimes I let it happen because he needs to experience and learn, sometimes I don't, because it's too risky. Everyone has different priorities, different perspective, and different lines drawn. I think that coaches trying to limit college athletes from doing backflips or crossing traffic in the offseason is futile and probably foolish, because kids will put themselves in so many risky situations anyway. But during the season, if Bill Self wants to tell a player to take the elevator rather than the stairs, to be in bed by 10:00, to refrain from going off-campus for whatever reason, I have no problem with that.

Chad Lee 5 years, 7 months ago

I agree Jonathan, especially on the toddler statement. Most of the fear we experience is learned from experience. Rodney your attacks are petty and misinformed. Do you live in Seattle?

Rodney Crain 5 years, 7 months ago

Awwww Chad I'm sorry. Seattle lol ahh no. Miss again. You come from left field, make no sense most of the time, and stray from the topic faster than my mom. Sorry it's just too easy to disagree with you.

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