Frank Mason would love to hitch a ride with the Kansas Jayhawks on their flight to Italy on Monday.
“I was thinking about it. I was trying to figure out a way to get out there and be with those guys even if I was just in the stands,” said Mason, the former KU point guard and reigning college basketball player of the year.
Mason on Friday was conducting the second of three Frank Mason Basketball Camps in the Sunflower State — this one at Lawrence High.
“It definitely feels weird to me,” added Mason, who is used to traveling with the Jayhawks the past four seasons. “This is my only (free) time. I have a few weeks off, then I’ll have to be back to training camp. I was literally trying to figure out a way to get out to Italy but I have some other things I have to do.”
Mason ran camp Thursday in Olathe and will be at Wichita Hoops for a final session on Saturday. Mason, a 2017 second-round draft pick of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, will sponsor a final one-day camp a week from Saturday in Sacramento, Calif.
The Jayhawks, meanwhile, are scheduled to play Stella Azzurra, a team consisting of 18- and 19-year-olds from Rome clubs, at 11:30 a.m., Central time, Wednesday at Honey Sports City in Rome. KU will face the Players Group — which consists of a team being organized by Vittorio Gallinari, father of NBA player Danilo Gallinari — at 11:30 a.m. Thursday also at HSC. The Jayhawks will again meet the Players Group at noon Central time, Saturday Aug. 5 at PalaSport Enrico Somaschini (PalaPorada) in Milan and take on Italy All Star A2 on Sunday, Aug. 6, also at noon Central at Pala Sport. The Italy All Star A2 squad will consist of players from the Lega Basket Serie (LBA) professional men’s basketball league from the A2 level.
Mason knows first hand the value of an overseas trip.
KU in the summer of 2015 won the World University Games in South Korea, then parlayed that performance into a 33-5 season. KU in 2015-16 went 15-3 in the Big 12 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight, where the Jayhawks were ousted by Villanova.
“Definitely,” point guard Mason said, asked if the Korean experience was huge for that KU team. “They (current Jayhawks) are headed over there, will get a couple early games in. Some professional teams or whoever they are playing. … I think it’ll be really good for them moving forward. I hope they do well. I’ll be rooting for them.”
Mason, who recently signed a two-year guaranteed contract worth $2,562,627 with the Kings, averaged 8.5 points, 2.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds a game while playing 16.5 minutes per contest in four summer league games earlier this month in Las Vegas. He scored 24 points, dished six assists and grabbed five rebounds against the Los Angeles Lakers summer-league team after opening his pro career with a four-point outing against Phoenix in which he hit 2 of 9 shots.
“The first time stepping out there for the summer league, it was a little different feeling,” Mason said. “It showed obviously. I didn’t have my best game. I made the right plays. The shots just didn’t fall. As I got comfortable I started to play a little better.”
Mason said in those four summer league games, “I learned different ways to run different sets, kind of got adjusted to the pace even though all of those guys are not NBA guys, just getting a feel of the game.”
Mason, now listed as a 6-footer instead of his 5-11 measurement at KU — said he’ll be enthused for his rookie season this fall.
“I’m looking forward to playing against everyone, just competing every night,” Mason said. “There are so many special players in the NBA, a lot of guys I grew up watching. It’ll definitely be really fun playing against those guys.”
Mason is being assisted at this week’s camps by current Jayhawks Udoka Azubuike, Devonté Graham and Malik Newman.
“It means a lot to have those guys here,” Mason said Friday at Lawrence High School’s main gym. “I think the campers love them just as much as they love me. Just to have great role models here to give knowledge to the kids, to show how much they appreciate the fan support, I think it’s really big for this community. I think those guys (Jayhawks) do a great job with that.”
Bagley schedules UCLA visit
Marvin Bagley, the No. 1 basketball prospect in the recruiting class of 2018 who may reclassify to play college basketball this season, currently is visiting USC after having visited Duke last week. Bagley, a 6-10 senior forward from Sierra Canyon High in Chatsworth, Calif., scheduled a visit to Arizona for next Wednesday to Friday and UCLA from Aug. 10-12 according to ESPN.com.
He also plans on visiting Kansas and Kentucky but has not set dates for those visits.
USC on Thursday reportedly offered a scholarship to two of Bagley’s brothers: Marcus, a 6-6 class of 2020 small forward who has offers from Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA as well as 7-year-old Martray Bagley.
As USA Today’s Andrew Joseph pointed out: “This was a PR move for USC from a coach (Andy Enfield) hoping to sign a generational talent. And that’s fine because (Marvin) Bagley is outrageously good at basketball.”
Bagley, by the way, has filed paperwork with the NCAA clearinghouse to potentially reclassify from 2018 to 2017, Scout.com reported Friday.
Self watches Jacobs score 21
KU coach Bill Self watched future Jayhawk guard Markese Jacobs score 21 points, dish out five assists and grab four rebounds for Mac Irvin Fire in an AAU game Friday at the Las Vegas Classic, Lit Fuse Productions reported on Twitter. Jacobs is a 5-11 junior point guard from Hillcrest Academy in Phoenix. He is originally from Chicago. Jacob is ranked No. 72 in the recruiting Class of 2019 by Rivals.com. He’s already committed to KU.