University of Kansas

Already the first consensus national player of the year from KU, Frank Mason could add Wooden Award

Frank Mason is doing something no other KU player has

Claiming four national player awards that are recognized by the NCAA should assure Mason consensus national player of the year honors. He could collect a fifth award on Friday.
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Claiming four national player awards that are recognized by the NCAA should assure Mason consensus national player of the year honors. He could collect a fifth award on Friday.

Kansas senior guard Frank Mason, who won four major national college basketball player of the year awards last weekend at the Final Four, will travel to Los Angeles on Thursday as one of five finalists for perhaps the most prestigious honor of all — the John R. Wooden Award.

Mason has won the Associated Press player of the year award, the Naismith Trophy as presented by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, the Oscar Robertson Trophy as presented by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and the National Association of Basketball Coaches player of the year award.

There is no official NCAA designation for consensus national player of the year. However, Mason has unofficially achieved that status and in doing so is KU’s first player in history to win at least four major player of the year honors in the same season.

He will be joined by fellow Wooden Award finalists Lonzo Ball (UCLA), Josh Hart (Villanova), Caleb Swanigan (Purdue) and Nigel Williams-Goss (Gonzaga) at the 2017 College Basketball Awards Show, which will be shown at 7 p.m. Friday on ESPN2.

The only major player of the year award that has eluded Mason thus far is the Basketball Times award, which went to Swanigan. Mason also has won player of the year honors designated by Sporting News, USA Today, CBS Sports, NBC Sports and Bleacher Report.

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Mason earlier this postseason was named a consensus and unanimous first-team All-American after being so designated by the AP, Sporting News, NABC and U.S. Basketball Writers.

KU coach Bill Self has lavished praise on the 5-foot-11 Petersburg, Va., native during awards season.

“He’s meant to us as a program as much as any one player has since I’ve been here,” said Self, who has completed 14 seasons at KU. “I don’t think anybody would argue … I don’t know if there’s ever been any player tougher than Frank Mason wearing the Crimson and Blue.

“Frank sets the tone. Frank is our energy giver, moreso than anyone else,” Self added. “He’s been the best guard we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

Mason averaged 20.9 points, 5.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds a game his senior season while hitting 48.7 percent of his threes. The 2017 Big 12 Player of the Year became the only player in KU and conference history to average more than 20 points and five assists in the same season. He finished his career sixth on the Kansas all-time scoring list with 1,885 points. He’s sixth all-time in assists (576) and eighth in three-point field goals (185).

Mason posted 23 games of 20 or more points, including his final seven contests and 10 of KU's last 11 outings. He was leading scorer in 26 games.

“I learned a lot from Frank,” said KU freshman Josh Jackson, one of 10 players on the Wooden Award All-America team. “One of the biggest things is his competitive drive, spirit, will to win, how tough he is, never afraid of any challenge.”

The Big 12 coaches offered words of praise for Mason throughout the season.

“The No. 1 thing is he is an absolute winner,” Texas’ Shaka Smart said. “Contrary to what some might believe, that’s what they are looking for at the next level, too. He’s done a great job leading that team. He’s done a great job sparking balance of being a point guard who runs his team and organizes his team and then also taking the big shot and making the big shot and being a big-time offensive threat.”

And from West Virginia’s Bob Huggins: “He makes big shots. He’s continually in attack mode. You can’t ever relax. He’s going to get it at the rim. It’s good to see someone who works so hard get the accolades he deserves.”

Mason has constantly deflected the praise. After winning the NABC Award he thanked his “amazing parents and family for supporting me, my coaches and teammates and all the competition for pushing me to be the best I can be. I wish them the best and thanks.”

Gary Bedore: 816-234-4068, @garybedore

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