Kansas senior guard Frank Mason won the 2017 John R. Wooden Award on Friday night, cementing himself as near-unanimous national player of the year in college basketball.
Mason, a 5-foot-11 native of Petersburg, Va., claimed the Wooden over finalists Lonzo Ball (UCLA), Josh Hart (Villanova), Caleb Swanigan (Purdue) and Nigel Williams-Goss (Gonzaga). On Friday, he also was named the winner of the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award during the College Basketball Awards Show broadcast on ESPN2 from The Novo by Microsoft in downtown Los Angeles.
Mason joins Danny Manning (1988) as KU’s second Wooden winner of all time. Mason this postseason has also 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. He also has won player of the year honors designated by Sporting News, USA Today, CBS Sports, NBC Sports and Bleacher Report.
Mason won all but one player of the year designation. Basketball Times went with Purdue’s Swanigan.
“It means a lot to me,” Mason said of winning the Wooden Award and being the first KU player to win as many as four postseason awards in one postseason. “First of all I want to thank John R. Wooden, my parents, coaches and teammates. This award means everything to me. Nothing would have meant more to me than the national championship, but I really appreciate this.”
Of his entire senior year, Mason said: “It’s been great. I’m just thankful for my coaches. They pushed me to be the best player and person I could be. My teammates did an amazing job my four years. I’m just thankful.
“It’s been a good year for us. I wouldn’t say great. A great year to me is winning it all,” Mason continued. “It’s been a good year. I learned a lot throughout my four years. Devonté (Graham) has been great and the rest of my teammates. I’m looking forward to watching them grow over the next few years. I’m excited to watch them play,” he added.
Kelsey Plum of Washington won the women’s Wooden Award.
Villanova’s Hart won the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award. KU’s Josh Jackson was a finalist for that honor. Kentucky’s Malik Monk won the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award; Baylor’s Johnathan Motley the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award; Gonzaga’s Przemek Karnowski the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award.
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.
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.
Mason: ‘You can’t be a punk’
Mason, by the way, may have had the line of the night. When asked on the broadcast what “toughness” means to him, he said: “It means everything. When you step on the court you have to play with toughness. You can’t be a punk out there or anything.
“You have to play with pride,” he added, “take everything personally. That’s what I do.”
West Virginia game tops
Mason identified his favorite game of the season: “Probably the West Virginia game in Allen Fieldhouse. We were down 14 with 2:45 left. Coach did an unbelievable job motivating us and helping us believe in each other. My teammates did an unbelievable job of keep fighting and not giving up. It paid off,” he added of a 84-80 overtime win on Feb. 13 at Allen Fieldhouse.