Frank Mason says Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas proves ‘heart over hype’ can work in NBA
Kansas coach Bill Self was content to talk big picture when discussing guard Frank Mason getting drafted 34th by the Sacramento Kings in Thursday night’s NBA Draft.
“His legacy certainly at Kansas is cemented. Nothing can change that,” Self said at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. “I’m just so excited that now he’s going to get a chance to provide for himself and his family in ways that he never would have dreamed possible five years ago.”
In that short time, Mason started as a Towson commit, went to a military school after failing a high school government class, then came to KU as a non-top-100 recruit who drove fearlessly but out of control with a slow-release jumpshot.
Fast forward to today. Mason, a 5-foot-11 native of Petersburg, Va., was the consensus college basketball player of the year after averaging 20.9 points and 5.2 assists last season. He made 47 percent of his three-pointers and also learned Thursday that he was one of five ESPY nominees for best male college athlete.
His work isn’t finished. Mason will now set out to prove that his short stature won’t be a detriment at the next level.
“Thanks for believing in me Sacramento Kings. I promise you won’t regret it,” Mason tweeted Thursday night.
“I think it’s a great place for him,” Self added. “I think he’ll have an opportunity to certainly not only make the team but play a lot.”
The Kings had been interested in Mason for a while, bringing him in for two pre-draft workouts while also contacting Self multiple times over the last month.
Self, who believed Mason entered the night with a “30- to 40-percent chance” to be taken in the first round depending on how the draft fell, was a bit concerned when Sacramento took Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox with the fifth overall pick. The fact the Kings still wanted Mason after that, Self said, showed how much they liked him.
“He’ll bring a toughness to their culture that will be very positive,” Self said. “I think he and De’Aaron Fox will both be great for their franchise together.”
Mason steadily rose up mock draft boards after the season, with Self believing that a strong showing at the NBA combine along with solid interviews made him a more coveted prospect.
That all led to Thursday, where Mason earned an opportunity that would have seemed unlikely coming out of high school.
“I think it’s a great fit,” Self said. “Frank is going to will his way to make it no matter what.”