While Frank Mason hopes to get drafted next month, one unnamed NBA team asked his hopes for an event much further down the line.
“The craziest question was probably: If I were to die, which way would I want to go out?” Mason told ESPN2 on the telecast of Thursday’s NBA Combine in Chicago. “I said, ‘In my sleep, because I wouldn’t want to suffer from any pain or anything, so I’d just rather be asleep around my son (Amari) and my family.’ ”
He’ll also have family around at Sunday’s graduation ceremonies in Lawrence as the former Kansas superstar will walk the stage for his liberal arts and sciences degree.
Mason is working this week to make sure the next family gathering after that — the June 22 NBA Draft — also has a happy ending.
While KU teammate Svi Mykhailiuk is using this week to decide whether to become a pro and Josh Jackson has skipped the combine to not hurt his draft stock, Mason is fighting for his pro career.
So far, so good for the consensus player of the year, who has met with Detroit, Memphis and Washington, with an interview scheduled Friday with the New York Knicks.
The knock on Mason is his height with his preferred storyline about how Isaiah Thomas of Boston has shattered barriers for smaller players. Good news came in the measurements as Mason reached the 6-foot mark in shoes, then was even more impressive attempting to jump out of them.
His 41.0-inch vertical leap was the third best out of the 43 players tested on day one.
Mason’s 4.3 percent body fat measurement was the second-lowest mark of the 64 players measured, behind just Devin Robinson of Florida, who was at 3.2, and Wesley Iwundu of Kansas State (4.0).
Mason scored eight points in a 5-on-5 scrimmage, scoring two transition baskets in traffic in the first half, and knocking down a 3-pointer in the second half as his team lost 82-64 to Mykhailiuk’s squad. Mason had four assists and did not turn the ball over in 22 minutes.
As for Friday, Mason said he needs to show teams one important thing during the 5-on-5 drills.
“That I can really guard,” he said. “I think that’s the most important thing. On the offensive side, I just let my skills show. I’m a very good playmaker, I’ve been shooting the ball a lot better, good passer, and it’s always team-first with me.”
Mason, of Petersburg, Va., averaged 20.9 points and 5.2 assists in his senior season for the Jayhawks, helping KU to the regional final at the NCAA Tournament.
Despite his stellar career for coach Bill Self at Kansas, most analysts see Mason as a second-round pick.
“I haven’t heard anybody say that he won’t be in the second round,” ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla said this week. “Frank will probably be a guy that is going to be a backup in the NBA, but could have a long career if he finds the right places to land.”
The limitations from the outside are nothing new, said Mason, adding he doesn’t pay attention to mock drafts.
“Each level of my life, it’s been the same way,” he said. “Coming out of high school, none of that had mattered coming into college. Now college doesn’t matter going into the professionals. Each level I handled it pretty well, and I’m excited about everything.”
After graduation this weekend, Mason said he will train mostly in Los Angeles. He said first workout is scheduled with Milwaukee on May 22 and will workout for Boston on May 24. He’ll have time to prepare for whatever question comes his way.
“Every meeting has went really well,” Mason said. “I met some good people, and it’s been good vibes and good conversations. It’s been a lot of laughs and a lot of serious conversations.”