Frank Mason accepts AP Player of Year award
The moment is bittersweet for Kansas guard Frank Mason.
As he accepted the Associated Press Player of the Year trophy, becoming the first Jayhawks player in the 57-year history of the award to win the honor, Mason couldn’t take his mind off last week’s season-ending loss to Oregon.
Asked if he’d put the setback in the Midwest Regional final at the Sprint Center in Kansas City behind him, Mason shook his head.
“I haven’t yet,” he said. “I’ve still been thinking about it. It’s been on my mind a lot. And I just have to move on to what’s next and look at the bigger picture and focus on everything I can control.”
Mason scored 21 points against the Ducks, about his 20.9 season average, but there wasn’t enough support get the Jayhawks into their first Final Four since 2012.
Mason was accompanied by his parents and KU assistant coach Kurtis Townsend at the presentation at University of Phoenix Stadium, site of the Final Four. Mason thought he’d be in the Phoenix area this weekend with his teammates.
“I didn’t plan on doing this,” Mason said. “My goals and our goals were to be here as a family. It’s just something different for me because I expected me to be here with my teammates and coaches.”
Still, Mason enjoyed an amazing season, leading Kansas to its 13th consecutive Big 12 regular-season title and a 31-5 record. Kansas reached the Elite Eight for the second straight season.
Mason received 37 votes Thursday from the same 65-member media panel that selects the weekly AP Top 25. Villanova’s Josh Hart had 16 votes, Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan got nine and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball received three.
Gonzaga’s Mark Few won the AP coach of the year award. Few, who has taken the Zags to the NCAA Tournament in all 18 of his seasons there, got 31 of 65 votes.
The AP player of the year award is one of seven recognized by the NCAA, which started tracking national players of the year in 1959. The Basketball Times, the Oscar Robertson Trophy (U.S. Basketball Writers Association), the Wooden Award, the National Basketball Coaches Association, the Naismith Award and the Adolph Rupp Trophy winners have yet to be announced.
Before Mason, only three KU players had won at least one of those seven awards. None won consensus player of the year status, or four or more in the same year.
Danny Manning won the Wooden, NABC and Naismith player of the year awards during the Jayhawks’ 1988 NCAA championship season. Bradley’s Hersey Hawkins won the other four.
Drew Gooden shared the NABC honor with Duke’s Jason Williams in 2002 and Nick Collison won it outright in 2003.
Mason also was the only unanimous selection to the 2016-17 AP All-America team released Tuesday, receiving all first-team votes from the same 65-member national media panel that selects the weekly AP Top 25. Mason is KU’s 22nd consensus first-team All-American and earned unanimous All-American status after also making the Sporting News, NABC and USBWA first teams.