Kansas senior guard Frank Mason was announced as winner of the 2017 Danny Manning “Mr. Jayhawk” Award for contributions on and off the court at the conclusion of Tuesday night’s postseason basketball awards banquet held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel.
Mason, a 5-foot-11 native of Petersburg, Va., in recent weeks also won the Wooden Award, 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.
Mason also has won player of the year honors designated by Sporting News, USA Today, CBS Sports, NBC Sports and Bleacher Report. And he won the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award. Mason earlier this postseason was selected as a consensus and unanimous first-team All-American after being so designated by the AP, Sporting News, NABC and U.S. Basketball Writers.
“What he’s given us goes way beyond awards,” an emotional KU coach Bill Self said at a banquet that revealed no breaking news regarding the 2017-18 KU roster. Self said announcements from freshman Josh Jackson and junior Svi Mykhailiuk regarding their futures should come soon from the two players.
“He’s so damn tough, so competitive,” Self added of Mason, who averaged 20.9 points, 5.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds a game his senior season while hitting 48.7 percent of his threes. “He’s done as much for our culture as anybody we’ve ever been around.”
Self said one day at practice he told a “stubborn” Mason: ‘“Frank if you’d basically pull your head out, your name will live in the rafters forever. You’ll be Big 12 Player of the Year.’ Little did we know he was the best player in our league and best player in the United States.”
Mason, who indicated he was given a credit-card code provided by Wooden Award sponsor Wendy’s that guarantees him “Wendy’s for life,” said he appreciated, “my university, family, amazing teammates and fans. I appreciate everything about this place.”
Self said he was “surprised” junior Devonté Graham did not decide to test the NBA waters in coming weeks while not signing with an agent. Instead, Graham announced Sunday he’d definitely be returning for his senior season at KU.
“I certainly would be surprised if Svi doesn’t at least test,” Self said of Mykhailiuk possibly putting his name in the 2017 Draft while not signing with an agent. Thus he could attend the NBA Combine, work out for NBA teams and have until May 24 to remove his name from the draft if he decided to return to school.
“The way the rules are set up it’s fine to test and come back. I would think Svi would have an immediate decision, but a long-term decision still won’t happen for five or six weeks … that’s if he declares.”
Jackson obviously will be declaring for the draft in the near future.
“I’m not going to hold my breath on that one,” Self said of Jackson possibly returning to KU. “Josh will decide what he’s going to do whenever the time is right for him. It’s going to happen. He’ll make some decision I’m sure in the near future. I don’t know what day.”
On the 31-5 Jayhawks, Self said: “I love this team. I know you guys (fans) did too. I know our staff loved this team. You could see the smiles, how they interact with each other. They truly care about each other. This year you could feel it.
“Whenever you have kids who care about each other and are unselfish and want for the person next to them to succeed as much as themselves. That happened long before they got to Kansas,” he added, applauding his players’ parents.
This and that
▪ Makai Ashton-Langford, a 6-2 senior guard from Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., who recently decommitted from Connecticut, has committed to Providence. Ashton-Langford, the No. 38-ranked player in the recruiting class of 2017 according to Rivals.com, is a Brewster teammate of KU target Thomas Allen, a 6-2 senior point guard ranked No. 149 nationally.
▪ Karem Kanter, a 6-10 senior from Wisconsin-Green Bay has decided to transfer to Xavier, according to ESPN. The brother of NBA forward Enes Kanter had KU on his list of transfer possibilities along with Michigan State, Pitt, Kansas State and others. Kanter told ESPN he will keep his name in the NBA draft pool, but will not hire an agent so he could still return to college.
▪ Kenny Wooten, a 6-8 senior from Las Vegas Trinity Christian High has decommitted from Arizona State. He initially picked the Sun Devils over KU and others.
▪ Illinois is a possible landing spot for former KU forward Carlton Bragg. Champaignroom.com reports that Illini coach Brad Underwood has contacted Bragg about a possible transfer. Bragg chose KU over Illinois and Kentucky his senior year at Cleveland’s Villa Angela-St. Joseph High.