Mason is “Mr. Jayhawk” at 2017 Kansas Basketball Awards Banquet

At the annual Kansas basketball awards banquet, Frank Mason brought home the next piece of hardware with his extensive collection already in the background.

Each year, Kansas’ awards banquet is open to up to 500 of the top Williams Fund donors among Jayhawk season ticket holders. It’s a pretty exclusive event, and because my grandma has had season tickets for 29 years, I’m fortunate enough to accompany her each year. Here’s a rundown of everything of note from a fun night of Kansas basketball.

Players began arriving a bit after 5:30. There’s a “social hour” where the team mingles with the hundreds of season ticket holders, most of which are gray-headed and over the age of 60. It always amazes me how interested and pleasant the players are. They sign every autograph, they take every picture, and they smile and talk to every single person. It’s clear that a pretty high bar is set for the team, and year after year, they never disappoint.

Also, in case you didn’t know, Udoka Azubuike is enormous:

 

At 6:30, after an invocation by Wayne Simien, dinner is served while a 30-minute “season in review” video plays. Frank Mason’s game-winner against Duke, the Jayhawks’ road upset of Kentucky, and clinching a 13th straight Big 12 title were the moments that resulted in the biggest applause.

Immediately afterwards, Brian Hanni introduces Bill Self, who speaks for about a half-hour. Every year, Self thanks everybody notable in the Kansas basketball program: team managers, the training staff, video coordinators, and the coaches. Finally, he spends 10 minutes or so giving some one-liners about the season that was, giving each player a shout-out. Here are some of his highlights:

All three seniors were asked to come to the stage and say a couple of words to the fans in attendance:

Frank Mason won the Danny Manning “Mr. Jayhawk” award given out to the player that best represents Kansas basketball, in easy-to-predict news.

Also, to answer a splitting question, yes, Frank Mason gets free food:

The entire team was in attendance at the banquet, except for Carlton Bragg. Not only was he not there, but Self didn’t mention him once in the entire program. It was pretty surprising, as typically they’ll at least acknowledge players headed out of the organization, even if they’re not exactly leaving on the best of terms.

Also, many people expected Josh Jackson or Svi Mykhailiuk to make some sort of announcement tonight about their futures. At the last two banquets, Perry Ellis and Carlton Bragg announced their intents to return to school. Some thought that Jackson or Mykhailiuk may follow suit and make some sort of announcement about next year, whether it’d be returning to school or leaping to the NBA, but both players were very silent. Each time an autograph-seeking fan would comment “Hope to have you back next year!” or “Can’t wait to see you in the NBA!” to either player, they had the exact same response: an awkward smile and an uncomfortable chuckle. They didn’t drop any hints. They were swamped with autograph requests, though:

I told Devonte’ Graham how excited the fanbase is to have him back. You can just tell he’s geeked to be returning as well:

Here are my grandma and I with the big four high-profile players:

And here’s the team photo. Year after year, this is one of the best events the staff puts on, and the players are the biggest reason why:

Ryan Landreth

I’m a junior at MidAmerica Nazarene University. I own and write for Rock Chalk Blog, and I host the Inside the Paint podcast. I also write for Royals Review. I’m sports-obsessed. It happens.