Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Tom Keegan: Frank Mason best player in college basketball so far

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) celebrates an Oklahoma turnover next to Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) during the second half, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) celebrates an Oklahoma turnover next to Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) during the second half, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.


Seldom does a college basketball player dominate a quarter of a game the way Kansas senior guard Frank Mason did Tuesday night to rally the Jayhawks to an 81-70 victory at Oklahoma.

He scored 18 of his 28 points in the first 10:04 of the second half, which once men’s college basketball follows the lead of the women’s game and goes to quarters instead of halves, would just about equate to the third quarter.

You see that sort of dominance in gyms across America when a Div. I prospect toys with players who will spend the rest of their lives bragging about their high school glory days, but seldom at the college level.

For a Big 12 player to do what Mason did for a quarter of a road game requires a senior’s savvy, extraordinary athletic ability and refined basketball skill. He scored just one point the rest of the way because he chose to become a facilitator.

“Late game, I thought Frank turned down two or three looks to give the shot to Josh or whoever, when in my opinion he should look to shoot them,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.

Had Mason put his mind to it, he could have scored 40 points and still delivered the Jayhawks with a double-digit victory.

I remember asking Mason after he had a big game as a freshman or sophomore whether he thought he could one day match his high school single-game scoring output of 52 points. He said he wasn’t sure, an interesting answer that revealed he knew he could develop into the big-time scorer he is now for Kansas.

If the college basketball season ended today, Mason would edge Villanova do-it-all shooting guard Josh Hart as national player of the year.

Mason is at the controls of the most likely team to move to No. 1 in the nation Monday, provided it takes care of business Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse vs. Oklahoma State. He leads the Big 12 in scoring (20.4) and 3-point accuracy (.549). And with 5.6 assists per game, ranks second by one-tenth of an assist behind conference leader Monte Morris of Iowa State.

Hart of reigning national champion Villanova, another candidate to move to No. 1 Monday, also has a strong case. He leads the Big East in scoring (19.8) and ranks fourth in rebounding (6.7).

Mason’s teammate Josh Jackson, Kentucky guards De’Aaron Fox (16.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 6.4 apg) and Malik Monk (21.7 ppg, .410 3-point pct.) are other perimeter players who will gain consideration.

Caleb Swanigan (18.3 points, 12.9 rebounds) of No. 17 Purdue stands out among big men.


Marius Rowlanski 5 years ago

Mason is definitely the leader and the heart of this team. If there was one player who I would say was indispensable, it would be Frank Mason but best college basketball player in the nation? I can't agree. I don't even think he is the best player on the team, that would be Josh Jackson (who happens to be my #1 player in the country)

Mason has the edge in experience and in just about every category that playing 4 years at Kansas gives you but in terms of pure talent, Josh Jackson is the best player I've seen come through Kansas since maybe Paul Pierce. The only player that I have just 1/2 step behind is Lonzo Ball.

I know Jackson needs a lot of work on his perimeter shooting but his mechanics are fixable. What isn't fixable is his competitiveness, his drive and his willingness to do whatever it takes to win. You either have it – Jackson does – or you don't. That can't be coached.

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 5 years ago

Josh is not the best player on the team by any means. He will be the best given a few years sure but when talking about this year Frank is hands down the best player.

Mike Greer 5 years ago

I guess when I think about "Player of the Year", I'm thinking about this year, not a few years down the road. At this point in the year no question Frank has outperformed just about everyone in the country, not just on the KU team. Josh has played well, don't get me wrong, and by the end of the season, perhaps he could be the best player on KU's team or even in the country, but he's a long way from there at this point. It's not just on points alone that I make that statement. Josh has his golden moments, but he also has cost the team the ball and points on some rookie mistakes and poor shot selection and missed free throws. All this may be corrected as the season progresses, but if the vote were today, I couldn't vote for Josh instead of Frank. Frank has just been too solid in all aspects of his game, rebounds, turn overs, free throws, shot selection, he's just solid.

Steve Zimmerman 5 years ago

Marius' original thread comment is so true. Couldn't agree more with you..

Gerry Butler 5 years ago

well let's take a little looksee here for a minute shall? - -- - -Frank for the overall season, fg% 53.2 %- - Josh 51.3% - - - -- 3pt% Frank 54.9 % Josh 25 % -- - - BUT in Big 12 play 3pt Frank 68.4% - - Josh 22.2% - - - FT % you ask? - - Frank overall 74.7% - - -Josh 56.6% -- BUT Big 12 - - Frank 86.2% - - Josh 64.7% - - Assists per game Frank overall 5.6 per - - - -Josh - - 3.1 per - - - Scoring? - - Frank 20.4 ppg - - Josh - - -15.4 - - -BUT Big 12 - -Frank 22.7 ppg - -Josh 14.7-ppg - - Turnovers about even - -Frank turns the ball over 2.4 - -per game - - Josh 2.3 - -per game - - - - -AHH what about the minutes per game - - Frank 34.9 ppg - - -36.7 - -in Big 12 - -Josh 27.9 - - 26.2 - - hmmm so why Frank so many more minutes? - -Great Question -- Why? - - foul trouble that's why - -Techinical's being called that's why - - - So now tell me again HowFrank is NOT the better player this year and not even the best player on our team again. - - I love Josh Jackson awesome player - But to say Frank is not the best player- - when evert stat proves differently - -the proof is in the pudding - - was it Josh that brought us back at the start of the 2nd half against Oklahoma 18 points in the FIRST 10 minutes? How many games has Josh lead us in scoring for a game compared to Frank? - - - -Frank a Senior - - Josh a Freshman - -you tell me - -who uld you rather have the ball at the end of a game to make a play whether it be dribble drive and kick out t open man OR spot up for the game winning shot - - Frank OR JOSH? - -seems like Nationally people like Frank. - -Frank 2nd place right now for POY- - -Josh 7th. - -Both excellent players, love them both

Humpy Helsel 5 years ago

1st team All-American, POY in Big XII, and national player of the year. As of today, he is in all of those conversations. He may not be in those conversations by the end of the year, but you have to put him at the top right now. He has not just done it when we have been up, but when his team has needed him most. We used to call those moments "in the clutch," I just sat on our couch watching the 10 minute stretch after half with my mouth hanging open. OU fans are a little more interested and knowledgeable about football than basketball, but there are two names they now know and will remember. One is Devonte' Graham from last year's game there, and now Frank Mason III for what happened last night at Lloyd Noble in Norman.

Edward Daub 5 years ago

Sports Illustrated has written a feature article last week on Mason and Graham! Luke Winn's article "Two of a Kind" is a Must Read for Jayhawk Fans.

David Robinett 5 years ago

Most talent is not equal to best player.

Dale Rogers 5 years ago

If those who make the selections for those to be awarded national player titles look at the competition played by the individual so they see the level of difficulty, then Frank is a shoo-in in my opinion. The others mentioned as in the running play in weaker conferences, especially those in the SEC. As noted earlier in the article, it's much easier to dominate against inferior competition.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years ago

The SEC is Kentucky, a decent Florida and then the rest. Having such a week conference is not going to help Kentucky much. Really looking forward to see how we do against a really solid team.

Harlan Hobbs 5 years ago

I think that Jay may have been the first to transmit the link to the Sports Illustrated story via an earlier article, and everyone should read it. It is a wonderful biographical sketch of Frank and Devonte and adds just that much more to their luster as leaders and teammates.

Robin Smith 5 years ago

Mason is clearly the best player in the country this year.

Andrew Dunlap 5 years ago

If he were 6'5" he would be a lottery pick

Marius Rowlanski 5 years ago

6'5" with the same percentages of body/fat ratios and he would be the #1 draft pick. I remember one of the announcers stating that he was the pound for pound strongest player on the team.

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