Frank Mason brought home numerous Player of the Year awards, but few believe in him at the next level.
As I perused through a few mock drafts, one thing stood out to me: they overlook Frank Mason. DraftExpress has him all the way at 59th overall, and NBADraft.net has him at 52nd at the time of this writing. Furthermore, Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman doesn’t have him in the first round, and neither does Ricky O’Donnell of SB Nation. The one who stands alone is Howard Megdal of CBS Sports, and he’s got Mason going 20th overall to Portland.
Since the NCAA Tournament is still going on, few full-length, comprehensive mock drafts are out, so Wasserman and O’Donnell not listing him among the first 30 isn’t totally egregious because we don’t know where they have him.
But the tail-end of the second-round is, well, mind-blowing. As loaded as this class is, Mason has established himself as a premier player in college. The 22-year-old has been named the Player of the Year by the following organizations:
- The Associated Press
- The Big 12
- Sporting News
He made tremendous improvements across the board and was the deciding factor when I selected the Jayhawks as my National Champion. That won’t be happening, but it shouldn’t reflect on his stock because in the games he played in, he was Kansas’ best player and their most influential leader.
The senior averaged 20.9 points (up from 12.9 last year), 5.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds in the Jayhawks’ 36 games. On top of the volume, Mason’s efficiency was remarkable, and he brought his overall clip up by almost six percentage points to 49 percent; his mark from three jumped nine points to 47.1 percent, and he attempted 174 threes compared to 113 as a junior.
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In the tournament, when you want to see all the big-time players step up, Mason improved across the board. His scoring jumped to 22.3 a night on 50.8 percent shooting while handing out six assists. Unfortunately, his accuracy from three dropped drastically to 37.5 percent.
Frank Mason is a great player, but it’s not a shock that being on the shorter side impacts his draft stock, and that’s why I believe he’s rated so lowly. Kansas lists him at 5-11 on their official site, and it doesn’t deviate much compared to third-parties. We’ll get an accurate measurement at the combine, but he’s built solidly and plays much bigger than he is.
We saw this last year with Tyler Ulis, who the Wildcats listed at 5-9. Despite that, he went on to have a sensational sophomore season and finished as the SEC’s Player of the Year after he averaged 17.3 points and seven assists. If he were three inches taller, he easily would’ve been a top-three pick. The same is true with Mason, but he’s got more intangibles than Ulis because he’s matured so much at school.
No matter who picks him, he’s going to enter the league with the understanding of what it takes to lead. Will he assume a role like that immediately? No, but it’s less time to develop that part of his game. A lot of Mason’s leadership is done by example; he plays with a continued aggression on both ends of the floor all game long, but he’s also able to stay that way without being reckless and the noticeable betterment on that should help his case.
At the NBA level, there are two types of point guard — those who play like Russell Westbrook and those who play like Stephen Curry. The former is north and south and doesn’t slow down, ever; the latter likes to get flashy with the ball but is just as effective as his counterpart. On a lesser scale, think John Wall and Kyrie Irving.
Mason isn’t a jaw-dropping athlete like Westbrook or Wall, but he just doesn’t stop attacking, and he’ll wear a defense out if he’s on the floor long enough. He totaled 238 free throw attempts by the end of the year which led the Big 12 and worked out to an average of 6.6 a night.
|1||Frank Mason||SR||2016-17||G||Kansas||Big 12||189||238|
|2||Jawun Evans||SO||2016-17||G||Oklahoma State||Big 12||155||191|
|3||Johnathan Motley||JR||2016-17||F||Baylor||Big 12||128||183|
|4||Josh Jackson||FR||2016-17||G||Kansas||Big 12||98||173|
|5||Vladimir Brodziansky||JR||2016-17||F||Texas Christian||Big 12||131||169|
|6||Esa Ahmad||SO||2016-17||F||West Virginia||Big 12||110||162|
|7||Wesley Iwundu||SR||2016-17||F||Kansas State||Big 12||122||159|
|8||Jeffrey Carroll||JR||2016-17||G||Oklahoma State||Big 12||121||150|
Above is a list of all the players in the conference who shot more than 150 free throws. Not only is Mason at the top, but there’s a 47-attempt differential between him and Evans. He plays aggressively, but he knows how to get where he wants, create contact and has a big enough frame to absorb the hits that he takes.
The driving lanes are there because Mason is such a deadeye shooter. Whether it’s a spot up, catch-and-shoot or off the dribble, there are few looks he won’t convert on and that ability to make shots translates well during late-game situations. Simply put, few are as poised as Mason with the clock running down, and he’s got the confidence to fire away with no hesitation.
At the NBA level, being able to guard bigger players consistently is going to be his weakest area. In conjunction with giving up some inches, he’s not particularly long and, unfortunately, there’s no data out there for his wingspan just yet. Regardless, that bulldog style and aggressive play on defense will allow him to be a pest and both opposing ball handlers.
Mason isn’t a mid-first rounder nor is he a lock to go 20-30, but having a player of his caliber down toward the end of the second round is absurd. If you’re a team who needs a backup point guard and you’re also in the 31-45 range, taking Mason could mean you get the steal of the draft. Plus, there’s a whole bunch of time until the combine and even more time for individual workouts. If he shows promise, he could quickly catapult a handful of spots.
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