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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Senior Night came quickly for Kansas trio

KU seniors, from left, Tyler Self, Landen Lucas and Frank Mason III, will be honored Monday, Feb. 27 at Allen Fieldhouse after playing in the final home game of their careers.

KU seniors, from left, Tyler Self, Landen Lucas and Frank Mason III, will be honored Monday, Feb. 27 at Allen Fieldhouse after playing in the final home game of their careers.

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The look in his eye and expression on his face said it for him, but Kansas senior Frank Mason III decided to go ahead and attach the words anyway.

Asked after Saturday’s victory at Texas if he was prepared to play his last game at Allen Fieldhouse — 8 p.m. tonight vs. Oklahoma on ESPN — Mason made no attempt to hide what the finale will mean to him.

“I’m not ready,” he said. “Yeah. I’m not ready.”

There will, of course, be more games for Mason in a KU uniform after tonight’s home finale. The Jayhawks play at Oklahoma State on Saturday, have the Big 12 tournament after that and whatever run they make in the NCAA Tournament will follow.

But for the lone remaining player in a star-studded, six-man recruiting class, tonight’s warm-up, tonight’s run through the tunnel, tonight’s starting lineup announcement and action on the floor, will be the last at Allen Fieldhouse.

Mason enters the game with 1,717 career points and in 12th place on KU’s all-time scoring list, 38 points away from moving into the Top 10. He said he did not know what to expect in terms of emotions from Senior Night. And he really did not want to think too much about it until it arrived.

“I’m just enjoying before Monday gets here, taking it day by day,” Mason said. “Whatever happens Monday, I’m really not ready for it.”

Those comments themselves demonstrate the emotions Mason is likely to experience in what has been a time-honored tradition at Kansas, excluding the 2006-07 season, when there were no seniors on the roster.

Each season, with fans standing, cheering and tossing flowers onto the floor, as many seniors as possible are inserted into KU’s starting lineup — no matter who the opponent is — and given their opportunity to shine. Following the game, in front of the 16,300 fans in the stands who refuse to leave, the seniors deliver speeches that include laughs, tears, jokes and heartfelt thank-yous.

When that portion of the night arrives this year, fellow-senior Landen Lucas believes he has an idea of what people will get from Mason.

“I’m sure it’ll be a great one,” Lucas said of Mason’s speech. “He’s like a Kansas legend now and I’m sure he’ll probably get his number retired at some point in time, so I’m sure the crowd’s gonna love it and everyone is gonna eat up everything he’s gonna say.”

Lucas will join Mason and head coach Bill Self’s son, Tyler, in saying goodbye to Allen Fieldhouse one final time.

Said Mason of Tyler Self getting a chance to hear his name called in the starting lineup: “He works really hard at practice, helps us get better and when his opportunity comes to get out there in the game, he’ll be ready. I can’t wait for that.”

As usual, Self, who indicated he would join his son on the floor once everyone else is out there, said the seniors will try to limit their speeches to three or four minutes. He admitted that experiencing one of these from the perspective of both father and head coach would be special.

“I think it’ll be one of the best Senior Nights that we’ve ever had,” Self said. “And we’ve had some great ones. I think there’ll be a lot of emotion in the building.”

Lucas agreed and said, in order to not get overwhelmed with the flood of emotions that come with reflecting on his five-year KU career, he planned to make his speech more about thanking people and less about his journey.

“If you want to sum up a career or something, maybe write a book later on,” Lucas joked. “That’s probably not the time to go on and on about every up and down.”

There have been plenty of ups and downs along the way for all three players who will be honored after KU’s home finale. But through it all, each has given his heart and soul to the program and felt a lot of love from the adoring fan base in turn.

“I think I’m a better leader, better everything, better shooter, just a better overall point guard,” Mason reflected. “I’m just thankful for my coaching staff and my teammates for pushing me every day and helping me become a better young man and player. I’m just thankful for the opportunities.”

Comments

Craig Alexander 7 months ago

The thought of Mason's last home game is rough. He has been a strong competitor from the very beginning. I've enjoyed watching him play all four years! We might actually get some emotions out of him Monday night.

Steve Zimmerman 7 months ago

Tyler, what a great supporting role, great teammate to have in the team. Lucas, what a great defender and rebounder, having earned coach's trust says a lot about you. Mason, (adding to Alex' post) a man of steel from the very beginning, never backs down, always a great leader by example not just words. It's been a great honor to have and will have witnessed your actions on the court!! What a great bunch of seniors, KU ambassadors, only bring positive highlights, great examples of true athletes!!

Thank you and keep on Rock Chalkin'!!!!

Tim Orel 7 months ago

I'm looking forward to having the video of the ceremony posted someplace so I can watch.

Benny Armstrong 7 months ago

Agreed, the Jayhawk Video team does a great job. Just a shame that they can't or won't post them on social media for fans to view outside of the Fieldhouse. Watching shaky cell phone videos doesn't do their work justice.

duke hester 7 months ago

This night for these young men, as with all before them, is surely a singular moment. Some have made it a marvelous moment of thanks and regardless of what they showed openly, I am sure all have had a huge amount of emotions overwhelm them. For myself, I thank each man for his play, for representing KU in a good manner, (even those that have had their bad times and embarrassed us fans), for all the good times and great memories, for the sacrifices they made and their families have made.
This really is a " one shining moment " for each of them and their families. Wish all good fortune and well being moving forward. RCJ GKU

Tony Bandle 7 months ago

I think it is a tribute to Jayhawk Nation, Allen Field House, the KU Coaching Tree, the University of Kansas Legacy, the quality of the young men who put on that uniform and the sheer joy of Kansas Basketball that virtually every senior I have ever seen or heard echoed the same sentiment......Senior Night came way too fast.

Steve Corder 7 months ago

Just love the Lucas comment, "...write a book".... He may miss too many bunnies but he's an outstanding young man with a great future! He represents the definition of student-athlete today. Just look at what he has accomplished, 5 years of championship teams and a master degree in his hand when he departs. Wow!

Bryce Landon 7 months ago

In an era of one-and-dones and instant gratification, I salute these young men who stayed the full four years and gave their heart and soul to KU.

And think of what kind of Senior Day we'd be having if Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins, and Wayne Selden - who all joined the program the same season as Mason - were still here!

Jonathan Allison 7 months ago

Embiid would be a RS-So, after missing two seasons with foot injuries

Dan Leftwich 7 months ago

I've been a Kansas Jayhawk basketball fan since 1964. Next to Jo Jo White, stands Frank Mason as my favorite players ever. Both played the game with tremendous will, selfless teamwork unless they were needed to take over the game, a work ethic second to none, and amazing athletic ability. Frank has been a credit to the program and I hope he gets a chance to prove people wrong at the next level. But, there is still a huge goal in front of him -- to put an exclamation point on his time here with a national championship! Thanks Frank. We'll see your jersey in the rafters one day soon!

Len Shaffer 7 months ago

Nice to have the perspective of someone who's been a fan longer than I have.

I've been a fan since '72 and Kirk Hinrich had been my favorite player until this year, when Frank has surpassed him. I love Frank's attitude, work ethic, selflessness, and skill, and it would be so appropriate for him to end his career with a national title.

Bert White 7 months ago

I've been taking this season one game at a time and didn't realize it was already Senior day. I remember when Frank signed with Kansas I was going around describing him as a poor man's Sherron... 4 years later, although I think Sherron offered more in a team leader roll I think Frank has become a better player. It's been a pleasure to watch him play.

Landen has been a fairly steady player... Three or four seasons ago if you had told me we were only going to play one big and it would have been Lucas I would have thrown my hands up and covered my eyes. But Lucas has done a solid job the past two seasons and met my expectations of when we signed him.

Tyler, part of one of the best father son/coach player tandems the game has ever seen... Granted Coach Self did most of the heavy lifting heheh. But it's been fun to watch him grow up, and the scout team players truly are underrated for how much they help the team. Here's to hoping we blow out OU and he gets to hear one last "We want Tyler" chant in AFH.

Congrats to all the seniors and thanks for the hard work on and off of the court that you put in.

Harlan Hobbs 7 months ago

Nothing to really add, but Frank Mason will go down as one of the all-time great ones at KU for his character and leadership as much as for his fantastic basketball skills. Would love to see him back at KU in some capacity when his basketball playing days are over.

The same goes for Landen and, of course, Tyler Self, although it appears that he is interested in pursuing his dreams outside of the realm of coaching. All three will have marvelous careers ahead of them in whatever venues they choose.

Chad Smith 7 months ago

I cant even believe im saying this, but i think i now rank frank ahead of sherron.

I give sherron the leadership and pure scorer traits. But only slightly. OVERALL, defense, passing and in game awareness i give all to frank. He's answered the bell every time we have needed him this season and he knows how to pace himself and play smart.

WOW.

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