Frank Mason is an interesting prospect at the University of Kansas. His athleticism is no secret, as he dazzled fans at Late Night with his array of dunks, not to mention the standing backflip he pulled off during his dance performance. Mason is a physical specimen with absurd leaping ability, yet he will come off the bench this year behind veteran Naadir Tharpe. Regardless, fans should expect to see a large dose of Mason, especially as the Jayhawks play into March (and hopefully April).
Mason is perhaps a year away from breaking out and becoming a college basketball star, especially considering that he has the physical attributes required to be a dominant point guard. Given the right amount of minutes, and with a little luck, Mason might even play his way into the NBA, which seems improbable for a ‘mere’ three–star recruit that is not ranked in the ESPN 100, but Mason is not your typical three-star recruit. Most of Mason’s weaker areas can, and likely will, be corrected by the start of his freshman season. There is no glaring weakness in his game, and he is only going to get better.
Before I continue my assessment of Mason, I recognize it would be easy for an outsider to pass this article off as KU “homerism,” so below I have included a little activity that I think sums up the value of Frank Mason. I have identified direct quotes from scouting reports of four players, one of which is Mason. The other three scouting reports are of elite NBA point guards from before they entered the NBA Draft (giving them an extra couple of years to assert their dominance). As you read the reports, try to figure out which one is Mason and who the other point guards might be. Additionally, rank the players from best to worst based solely on the information attached.
Player Number 1:
6’3”, 195 pounds
“Incredibly smart, strong and tough PG”
“Outstanding handle with either hand”
“Fundamentally sound, knows how to feed teammates”
“Plays terrific defense… excellent fundamentals and high basketball IQ”
“The type of guy you want handling the ball when the game is on the line”
“Doesn’t have great foot-speed or a very quick first step”
“Three point shot isn’t super consistent just yet, release could be a little faster”
“Looks just a little pudgy… room to get a little faster by shedding some weight”
Player Number 2:
6’0”, 170 pounds
“Attacks defenders and can get in the lane at will”
“Can deliver the ball at high speeds to teammates”
“Has great burst of speed and puts relentless pressure on the defense”
“Strong and physical point guard… can finish through contact because of his strength, touch and body control”
“Great at end of clock situations when it is time to make a play for himself or teammate”
“Needs to communicate more with teammates”
“Will have to continue to work on making his jumper a consistent weapon”
“At times he will also stall the offense with his over dribbling”
Player Number 3:
6’1”, 186 pounds
“Phenomenal athlete with an incredibly quick first step”
“Awesome foot-speed… terrific leaping ability”
“Highly unselfish… featuring excellent court vision and passing ability”
“Excellent lateral quickness and superbly quick and incredibly big hands”
“Potential to develop into a smothering perimeter defender”
“Anything but a surefire bet to pan out as a starting NBA-caliber point guard”
“Massive hands prevent him from being comfortable in his shooting mechanics and show any consistency in his release”
“Neither incredibly tall, nor strong… frame looks fairly frail”
Player Number Four:
6’0”, 165 pounds
“Relentless at pushing the ball and getting to the basket”
“Dynamite first step… master of things like splitting defenders, and changing pace”
“Runs an offense effectively and is very efficient with the ball”
“Incredibly quick hands… can score in a variety of ways”
“Leaves it all out on the court every time”
“You would expect [player] to be a dominant defender… However, he is mediocre at best in this area”
“Isn’t always an aggressive defender, inability to lock up primary ball handlers”
“A bit undersized as a point [guard]”
Player Number 1: Deron Williams
Player Number 2: Frank Mason
Player Number 3: Rajon Rondo
Player Number 4: Chris Paul
One has to notice that all four of these players have comparable scouting reports, which is especially significant considering that the reports of the three NBA All-Stars came from right before they were all drafted as first-round picks (and before Williams and Paul were drafted with the third and fourth overall picks of their respective drafts).
Mason has traits that are recognizable in each of the three point guards, such as his amazing athleticism and smooth ball handling ability; furthermore, Mason is entering a University of Kansas program that has produced many NBA guards in recent memory, such as Mario Chalmers, Xavier Henry, Kirk Hinrich, and Tyshawn Taylor (among others). KU definitely carries a reputation and a culture of winning, which can lead to high expectations, but as Thomas Carlyle once said, “No pressure, no diamonds.” Coincidentally enough, that quote was also a recurring theme at Late Night.
The jury is still out on Mason, but should he develop his jump shot to the level of a Mario Chalmers or Kirk Hinrich, the sky will truly be the limit. Mason has the physical attributes to be a college standout, however, only time will tell whether or not he has the ability to develop into an NBA point guard. Mason will first need to solidify his role on the team in this upcoming season, continuing to work and improve each day.
Obviously, Bill Self would like Naadir Tharpe to remain the starter while he remains at the University of Kansas, but there is a real chance that Mason could take the decision out of the coaches’ hands by sophomore year. It is unlikely that Mason will be able to overtake Tharpe during his freshman campaign, but with a strong season, and (more importantly) with an even stronger off-season, there could be a bit of controversy as far as the point guard position is concerned.
So how high is the ceiling for Frank Mason? No one can really say at this point. However, there is one thing that we can be sure of: With Mason’s vertical, no matter how high the ceiling goes, he will be able to jump up and touch it.