LAWRENCE — Just hours after publicly declaring his commitment to Kansas, Frank Mason was back on the campus of Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Va., hustling to make it to evening formation.
No special treatment. No big ceremonies — yet. Just another military student standing with his classmates.
This is just what Mason, a 5-foot-11 point guard, had in mind when his initial college basketball plans didn’t work out. Last year, during his senior season at Petersburg High in Petersburg, Va., Mason committed to play at Towson, just a 3 ½-hour drive up north to Baltimore County.
But academic issues arose and Mason, the 131st-ranked player in Rivals' 2013 rankings, enrolled in a post-grad year at Massanutten to work on his test scores and focus on academics. Around the same time, Kansas and coach Bill Self began to take notice.
“Once I knew that I was going to prep school,” Mason said, “I knew that I would give myself a chance for better and bigger programs to see what my talent was like.
“And I knew that I could play at a higher level than Towson.”
Mason, who led Petersburg to two state championship appearances during his high school career, made noise last summer on the AAU scene and in a 50-point performance in a local All-Star Game. He’s also a former AAU teammate of current KU freshman guard Andrew White, but Mason said that didn’t make much difference in his recruitment.
It was all about finding the right fit, and the tradition of KU was a strong pull. After visiting Lawrence this past weekend, Mason talked to his parents, Frank Mason Sr. and Sharon Harrison, before making his decision.
“They broke down the academic parts, how would I be successful,” Mason said of his visit. “(Self) just said, basically, for me to come in, run the team, do as he say, and I’ll be successful.”
Mason is still relatively under-the-radar on the national scene. (He did have interest from Virginia Tech and Providence, among others.) But Massanutten coach Chad Myers coached former Xavier guard Jordan Crawford at Hargrave Military Academy, and Myers says Mason and Crawford have similar stories.
Mason fills a potential need for 2013. KU had previously missed on two top point guards, Anthony "Cat" Barber (North Carolina State) and Chris Jones (Louisville). And senior guard Elijah Johnson will exit after this season, leaving Naadir Tharpe, a sophomore guard, and Rio Adams, a freshman, as the only players with point-guard skills on the roster. The Jayhawks could also return guards Ben McLemore and White, but both players appear to be more comfortable on the wing.
Mason is the third commitment in the Jayhawks’ 2013 recruiting class. KU will also add Conner Frankamp, a Wichita guard, and Brannen Greene, a 6-foot-7 swingman from Forsyth, Ga. Green is ranked No. 22 in Rivals’ top 150, while Frankamp slots in at No. 28.