Appreciating Frank Mason III

The senior guard is off to an incredible start to the 2016-17 season, averaging 21.6 points, 5.0 assists, and 4.2 rebounds. The three-year starter has many accomplishments already on his resume, but to fulfill Kansas’ Final Four aspirations, he’ll more than likely need to be this good for the entire season. I wouldn’t count him out.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. During Frank Mason’s senior year of high school, the 5’11″ point guard had signed to play basketball at Towson. Yes, Towson. The Petersburg, Virginia native was a standout in high school, yet somehow slipped through the proverbial recruiting cracks of nearly every blue blood program. Due to a failed government class his senior year of high school, Mason decided to hold off on his collegiate aspirations for one more year, enrolling at Massanutten Military Academy. It was then that KU assistant Kurtis Townsend discovered and delivered Frank Mason to Lawrence, Kansas.

A little over four years later, Mason is the unquestioned leader of a Jayhawk team with national title aspirations.

First, he was an afterthought. The lesser known of a loaded 2013 Kansas recruiting class that featured current NBA stars Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, along with three-year starter and former five-star recruit, Wayne Selden.

Behind junior Naadir Tharpe on the 2013-14 depth chart, Mason played in just 40% of KU’s minutes his freshman season. With Tharpe set to return after a strong junior season, Mason’s role seemed to be clearly cemented as the backup.

However, Tharpe left the program shortly following the season, opening up a starting point guard role that Mason relished. It’s been his ever since.

Since taking the role of Kansas’ starting point guard, Mason has played in just over 85% of Kansas’ minutes. He has started every basketball game for the Jayhawks since the start of the 2014-15 basketball season. His durability is incredible, his toughness unquestioned, and now, as a senior, his performance unrelenting.

This season, Mason has made outstanding leaps on the offensive end of the floor. Previously, his season high in points per game was 12.9, set last season. Leading teams that had scorers like Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden, Mason’s job was to distribute and play terrific defense, which landed him on the All Big-12 defensive team last season.

Incredibly, Mason has maintained his defensive prowess (99.0 defensive rating) and paired it with an offensive rating of 120.4. Essentially, Kansas outscores their opponents by just over 21 points per 100 possessions with Frank Mason on the floor.

These astonishing numbers are made even more so by the fact that Mason’s usage has also increased significantly.

Just over 26% of Kansas’ possessions end in the hands of Frank Mason, a formula that has Kansas off to a 4-1 start.

That very formula has also delivered the play of this year to this point:

Now is the time to fully take in and appreciate the greatness that Mason provides each time he steps on to the floor. Having Mason pioneer Kansas basketball has been a luxury. A luxury almost provided to Towson fans instead. Thankfully, things happen for a reason, and it has been a pleasure to watch Frank Mason lead this basketball team for the past three seasons. If current returns are any indication, the best is still yet to come.

Caleb Feist contributes content weekly each Thursday. View his archive, or follow him on Twitter.

Caleb Feist

Writer for Rock Chalk Blog who loves threes, the crying Jordan meme, and watching Mario Chalmers' game-tying shot on YouTube. Follow me on twitter, @cjfeist.