When two top-10 teams square off in prime time, the rest of the college basketball universe makes a point to tune in and watch the show.
ESPN’s Big Monday matchup between No. 10 Kansas and No. 6 West Virginia wasn’t always the most visually appealing display, but the Jayhawks’ unlikely rally for a rare “Country Road” win made it a captivating finish.
For the more prominent viewers — some former KU players, others national college basketball writers and analysts — the battle between two of the Big 12’s top teams and the Jayhawks’ first win at WVU Coliseum in five years not only proved entertaining but also telling.
Here are some of the social media reactions to KU’s 71-66 win, from around college basketball, including a couple from Jayhawks who made it possible.
More news and notes from Kansas vs. West Virginia
- Mountain of a comeback: Jayhawks stun West Virginia, move atop Big 12 standings
- Tom Keegan: Jayhawks far more effective with Azubuike on the floor
- Notebook: WVU’s Harris earns start despite reprimand; Self wears Huggins’ pullover
- The Keegan Ratings: Graham leads comeback, tops ratings at West Virginia
- Matt Tait's Postgame Report Card
- Pressing on: Jayhawks rally for rare victory at West Virginia
Another day, another national player of the year award for Kansas senior point guard Frank Mason III.
Well, make that two awards Sunday.
After one of the best individual seasons in program history, Mason was named the Naismith Trophy Winner and the National Association of Basketball Coaches’ player of the year on Sunday in Arizona.
Mason, the consensus national player of the year, has swept all of the major awards for national player of the year ahead of Friday's Wooden Award announcement.
Several of Mason’s teammates — and Villanova coach Jay Wright — congratulated him on a successful award season through social media:
Bill Self will tell you his Kansas basketball team’s game at Kentucky Saturday night doesn’t mean as much as the Big 12 games against West Virginia and Baylor that bookend it. But the KU coach also realizes how important a showcase matchup such as KU versus UK is to fans and the people who follow college basketball closely.
As you might have guessed, when the Jayhawks toppled Kentucky Saturday night at Rupp Arena, it sent KU fans, and even some former and future players, into a frenzy on Twitter and other social media platforms.
Analysts and national journalists, too, had plenty of praise to send KU’s was following an impressive road victory.
Below are some of the highlight reactions to the Jayhawks’ win in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge, including some from the men who made it happen.
Nearly every time Kansas basketball coach Bill Self fields questions from the media, someone will bring up Jayhawks senior point guard Frank Mason III and the impact he has made this season.
“How good has Frank been?”
“What has Mason meant to your team?”
“Did you think when you were recruiting him Frank would turn out this good?”
Without hesitation, Self will highlight Mason’s toughness, driving, shooting, passing, rebounding, etc., and share his opinion that his senior point guard has been as good as any player in the country at this juncture.
Self isn’t the type to campaign for his players to win national awards, but such statements are his way of doing so in a low-key fashion. When Self talks, people around the college basketball world listen.
Anyone who has watched No. 2 Kansas (17-1 overall, 6-0 Big 12) play this year knows where the team would be without Mason, who is averaging a team-best 20.3 points per game, while also contributing 5.3 assists and 4.5 rebounds. The 5-foot-11 senior from Petersburg, Virginia, is even shooting 52.4% from the field and connecting more often from 3-point range, where he is 42-for-78 (53.8%).
As KU keeps on winning and Mason continues to carry the team, it boosts his case for national player of the year honors. At CBSSports.com, Gary Parrish ranked the top 25 candidates for the ultimate individual award gave Mason No. 1 billing, edging out the heart and soul of defending national champion Villanova, senior guard Josh Hart.
Neither Mason nor Hart are going to be NBA lottery picks the way past Wooden Award winners such as Buddy Hield, Anthony Davis and Blake Griffin were, but both are integral parts of two of the nation’s best teams, so Parrish ranks them ahead of UCLA freshman point guard Lonzo Ball, who many expect to have a long, successful NBA career.
As can be found on sports-reference.com, Hart’s player efficiency rating of 29.5 is one of the best in the country, ranking sixth overall. But Mason isn’t too far behind, with a PER of 26.1 (27th nationally).
Likewise, the debate between Hart and Mason, Parrish wrote, is close:
“I’ve had Josh Hart atop these Player of the Year rankings, and it's reasonable to keep the Villanova senior there. He's still fabulous and leading a team ranked No. 1 in the Top 25 (and one). But Frank Mason has never been far behind. And he's playing better than Hart lately. So now the Kansas senior is the headliner.”
The top 10 players in the running, according to Parrish, also includes one of Mason’s teammates, freshman Josh Jackson.
No. 1: Frank Mason III, Kansas
No. 2: Josh Hart, Villanova
No. 3: Lonzo Ball, UCLA
No. 4: Caleb Swanigan, Purdue
No. 5: De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky
No. 6: Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga
No. 7: Johnathan Motley, Baylor
No. 8: TJ Leaf, UCLA
No. 9: Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame
No. 10: Josh Jackson, Kansas
— See the complete list: KU’s Frank Mason moves to No. 1
Kansas senior point guard Frank Mason III has put himself on the shortlist of candidates for national player of the year.
He's playing in one of the best stretches of his career, averaging 22.8 points, 5 assists and 3.5 rebounds through his first four Big 12 games. He's shooting 12-of-15 from behind the 3-point line in the past three games.
But there was a time when Mason wasn't considered to be one of the top players in the country. Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn wrote about Mason and Devonte' Graham this week, and one part of his story includes KU head coach Bill Self and assistant Kurtis Townsend discussing Mason's recruitment.
Self: “When Frank came out, was that the same year we were recruiting Cat Barber and Chris Jones?”
Townsend: “And Demetrius Jackson. Frank was kind of our fourth option.”
Self: “That left us really kind of—”
Townsend: “Scrambling. Then we were recruiting Jordan McLaughlin [for the following class], who ended up canceling our visit and committing to USC. But I went to see him [at the Adidas Fab 48] in Vegas; Frank was playing against him, and Frank kicked his ass.... I knew Frank’s AAU coach, Ty White, so I called him and asked, ‘Does that little dude with the braids play like that all the time?’ He said, ‘Every day, Coach. He don’t know no better.’ ... I went and saw him twice more, and each time he was good.”
Of course, back then, not many people predicted Mason would potentially outplay all of the players that spurned the Jayhawks during recruiting. Mason, a former Towson commit, was ranked much lower than the others.
Cat Barber averaged 23.5 points per game at North Carolina State last season before declaring for the NBA draft. Demetrius Jackson posted averages of 15.8 points and 4.7 assists at Notre Dame last year, also declaring for the draft.
Chris Jones ended up at Louisville, averaging 13.7 points and 3.6 assists during his senior season in 2014-15, while Jordan McLaughlin is averaging 14.5 points and 5.1 assists this year at USC.
Actually, in our KUsports.com archives, Mason's commitment wasn't met with a lot of joy. One commenter compared him to Royce Woolridge, who transferred after one season. Others preferred Karviar Shepherd, who committed to TCU and averages 5.9 points in his senior season, or Roddy Peters (played one season at Maryland and one season at South Florida).
When Self was asked last week how much improvement he's seen in Mason over the years, he responded: “He’s grown from being a guy who we thought could impact our program and be a good player for us in time to, in my opinion, a guy who has an unbelievable chance to be a first-team All-American, so that shows you the growth."
When a team such as Duke squares off with a team the likes of Kansas, the entire college basketball universe tunes in to see what happens.
Such was the case Tuesday night, when Bill Self’s No. 7-ranked Jayhawks battled Mike Krzyzewski’s No. 1 Blue Devils at the Champions Classic, inside Madison Square Garden.
KU’s victory over Duke, as you’d expect, set off a flurry of reaction all over social media — particularly from those with Kansas ties, after they watched Frank Mason hit a clutch, game-winning jumper.
From former Mason teammates singing his praises, to a former Duke star losing a bet, to media and analysts weighing in on the significance of the Kansas win, there was plenty to digest on Twitter.
Below are some of the many social media highlights that accompanied the memorable regular-season classic.
— See what people were saying about KU's matchup against Duke during KUsports.com’s live coverage.
More news and notes from the win against Duke
- Fearless Frank: Mason drills game-winning shot for 77-75 win over No. 1 Duke
- Tom Keegan: KU’s bench delivers big punch during win against Duke
- Notebook: Jackson ‘sparked’ Jayhawks in second half; KU-Stanford create series
- Duke’s Krzyzewski on Kansas: ‘They’re really good’
- The Keegan Ratings
- Matt Tait's postgame Report Card