KU senior Frank Mason on winning Big 12 player of the year
Frank Mason III was a last-minute recruit for Kansas. He turned into the Jayhawks’ latest All-American.
The senior guard was the only unanimous selection to the 2016-17 AP All-America team Tuesday, receiving all first-team votes from the same 65-member national media panel that selects the weekly AP Top 25. Mason also became KU’s 22nd consensus first-team All-American and earned unanimous All-American status after also making the Sporting News, National Association of Basketball Coaches and U.S. Basketball Writers’ All-America first teams.
“I love the kid and I think he knows how I feel about him, but I’ve never been more proud — not that he’s won a postseason award — but he’s done everything that he’s supposed to do,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “He’s been a great teammate, he’s been tough as nails, he’s worked his butt off, he’s loved by everyone in the academic departments, graduated, and to see him reap these benefits after putting in so much time is an unbelievable honor.”
The rest of the AP All-America team includes guards Josh Hart of Villanova and Lonzo Ball of UCLA, plus forwards Caleb Swanigan of Purdue and Justin Jackson of North Carolina. Hart, Ball and Swanigan also made all four All-America first teams recognized by the NCAA. Jackson made three of four, with Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss earning the USBWA first-team honor.
The AP votes were based on the regular season and conference tournaments.
Mason averaged 20.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists while shooting 48.7 percent from three-point range.
“My goals were always just to be successful as a team, do whatever I can do to make sure we’re successful and really change it at the defensive end and get after it,” Mason said. “Yeah, that’s pretty cool to see my name alongside those great KU players, it means a lot to me, but nothing would be possible without my teammates and coaching staff.”
Mason is KU’s first consensus All-American since Thomas Robinson in 2012.
Hart, a senior who was key to Villanova’s 2016 national championship, averaged 18.9 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Wildcats. He received 62 first-team votes.
“It was definitely a goal,” Hart said of the All-America recognition. “Now that it happened, it’s humbling. A great honor. I’ve got to thank everyone that voted for me.”
Coach Jay Wright called Hart “the perfect combination of talent, hard work, intelligence and humility.”
“He never let any single year’s accomplishment deter him from getting better,” Wright said. “I think he’s one of the most complete basketball players in the country.”
The sophomore Swanigan led the nation with 26 double-doubles and was the only player in Division I to average 18 points (18.5) and 12 rebounds (12.6). He shot 53.4 percent and 43.1 percent from three-point range.
“He’s a very knowledgeable guy, now he’s been through it in terms of experience, understanding scouting reports and those types of things,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “He really gets it. I think he really separated himself from a lot of people with the consistent play.”
Ball, who has already declared for the NBA Draft, took the country by storm as a freshman. He averaged 14.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 7.9 assists while putting UCLA back on the national map in a hurry. He received 54 first-team votes.
Coach Steve Alford called Ball “very deserving of the recognition.”
“He’s been special for us all year,” Alford said. “He’s been an incredible teammate, and everything that he’s done has been contagious throughout our team.”
Jackson, who received 24 first-team votes, helped lead the Tar Heels to a second straight Final Four. The junior averaged 18.1 points and 4.6 rebounds this season.
“He’s a better player overall,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. “He’s better defensively, better rebounder, he can score the basket and he’s just had a year for us.
“He’s been the leader of our team on the court, on the stat sheet. I couldn’t be happier for him because he’s really got it the old-fashioned way,” Williams said. “He’s worked, he’s put in the sweat.”
Williams-Goss led the second team and was joined by fellow juniors Dillon Brooks of Oregon and Johnathan Motley of Baylor, sophomore Luke Kennard of Duke and freshman Malik Monk of Kentucky.
The third team included freshmen Josh Jackson of Kansas, Markelle Fultz of Washington and Lauri Markkanen of Arizona, junior Bonzie Colson of Notre Dame and sophomore Ethan Happ of Wisconsin.
There has been at least one unanimous All-America pick the last four seasons.
2016-17 AP All-America Teams
Frank Mason III, Kansas, 5-11, 190, senior, Petersburg, Va. (65 first-place votes, 325 points).
Josh Hart, Villanova, 6-51/2, 215, senior, Silver Spring, Md. (62, 319).
Caleb Swanigan, Purdue, 6-9, 250, sophomore, Fort Wayne, Ind. (61, 308).
Lonzo Ball, UCLA, 6-6, 190, freshman, Chino Hills, Calif. (54, 296).
Justin Jackson, North Carolina, 6-8, 210, junior, Tomball, Texas (24, 223).
Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga, 6-3, 195, junior, Happy Valley, Ore. (13, 191).
Luke Kennard, Duke, 6-6, 202, sophomore, Franklin, Ohio (10, 189).
Malik Monk, Kentucky, 6-3, 200, freshman, Lepanto, Ark. (7, 165).
Dillon Brooks, Oregon, 6-7, 225, junior, Mississauga, Ontario (15, 152).
Johnathan Motley, Baylor, 6-10, 230, junior, Houston (4, 143).
Josh Jackson, Kansas, 6-8, 207, freshman, Detroit (1, 96).
Markelle Fultz, Washington, 6-4, 195, freshman, Upper Marlboro, Md. (3, 74).
Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame, 6-5, 225, junior, New Bedford, Mass. (1, 70).
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin, 6-10, 232, sophomore, Milan, Ill. (1, 66).
Lauri Markkanen, Arizona, 7-0, 230, freshman, Jyvaskyla, Finland (1, 50).
Honorable mention (in alphabetical order)
Ian Baker, New Mexico State; Trae Bell-Haynes, Vermont; Evan Bradds, Belmont; Gian Clavell, Colorado State; T.J. Cline, Richmond; Patrick Cole, N.C. Central; Mike Daum, South Dakota State; Angel Delgado, Seton Hall; Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State; Nana Foulland, Bucknell; De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky; Jerome Frink, LIU Brooklyn; Kevin Hervey, Texas-Arlington; Isaiah Johnson, Akron; Keon Johnson, Winthrop; Peter Jok, Iowa; Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga; Marcus Keene, Central Michigan; Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s; TJ Leaf, UCLA; Paris Lee, Illinois State; Zach Lofton, Texas Southern; Donovan Mitchell, Louisville; Dallas Moore, North Florida; Monte Morris, Iowa State; Luke Nelson, UC Irvine; Semi Ojeleye, SMU; Alec Peters, Valparaiso; Justin Robinson, Monmouth; Devin Sibley, Furman; Dennis Smith Jr., N.C. State; Erik Thomas, New Orleans; Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina; Melo Trimble, Maryland; Spencer Weisz, Princeton; Jacob Wiley, Eastern Washington; JaCorey Williams, Middle Tennessee; T.J. Williams, Northeastern.