Frank Mason, college basketball’s 2017 consensus national player of the year, was one of 40 former Kansas basketball players to participate in Thursday night’s Rock Chalk Roundball Classic KU alumni game at Eudora High’s gym.
The 25-year-old, second-year member of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings also attended Friday night’s VIP dinner/auction at Abe & Jake’s Landing in Lawrence. He certainly embraced the spirit of events designed to raise money for families of five local youths who are fighting cancer.
Mason, whose future with the Kings is not 100 percent certain — the team holds an option on the third year of his three-year deal which would pay him $1.6 million next season — ignored the risk of possible injury and played the entire first half and most of the second half of Thursday’s game. He signed autographs for about an hour after the alumni contest.
Mason — he exploded for 33 points for the winning Red team, second only to Ben McLemore’s 42 points for the losing Blue squad — was also responsible for one of the most memorable moments at Friday’s dinner/auction.
He invited 12-year-old Nicholas Parscale of Lawrence (one of the five beneficiaries of the weekend events that also included a Saturday golf tournament) to join him on stage at Abe & Jake’s Landing.
“I personally want to invite you to attend my softball game. Would you like to be my guest?” Mason asked Parscale. The Lawrence Corpus Christi grade school student, who has received extensive treatments for a cancerous brain tumor, has been diagnosed cancer-free heading into what everybody hopes will be another clean scan later this summer.
Parscale, a KU fan who said his favorite KU player of the past was Devonté Graham and favorite current player is Udoka Azubuike, accepted Mason’s offer.
In fact, he high-fived Mason and Roundball Classic organizer Brian Hanni, radio play-by-play voice of KU basketball and football.
Mason has announced that his second-annual charity softball game will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3 at T-Bones Stadium. A celebrity home run derby will start at 5 p.m.
A year ago, former KU point guard Sherron Collins blasted three home runs and knocked in seven runs in the four-inning charity softball exhibition. Collins, who played baseball in high school, ripped 10 home runs in 20 swings over a makeshift fence about 200 feet from the plate during the pre-game home-run derby competition.
In a monumental display of power, Collins blasted one of the softball pitches 355 feet. He not only cleared the short fence, but the actual T-Bones Stadium wall. One of his homers in the actual game one-hopped the same wall.
Other participants a year ago included: former KU players Travis Releford, Wayne Simien, Wayne Selden and Landen Lucas, current KU assistant coach Jerrance Howard, Sacramento Kings forward Harry Giles and former Kansas State players Wesley Iwundu and Jordan Henriquez.
“This is bigger than basketball. I just want to contribute in any way I can,” Petersburg, Va., native Mason said of taking part in charitable endeavors in this area.
“I’m happy to be part of Jayhawk nation. It (KU career) is something I’ll always remember and always cherish,” Mason added.
Taylor offers advice to Jayhawks
Former KU guard Tyshawn Taylor, 29, who played in Italy last season, worked out with KU’s current players last week. He was asked what advice he’d give the Jayhawks.
“I think they should enjoy the summer,” Taylor said. “That’s the first thing. Start to train yourself in your mind, ‘This will get serious soon.’
“It’s not going to be 100 kids (at Bill Self camp) screaming at you. It’s going to be 16,000 people and it’s going to be intense and fun so enjoy it, but know it (regular season) is serious. It means stuff to people around here. Try to get better and enjoy it (summer). It’s Kansas basketball. If you can’t get up for that, you are probably playing the wrong sport,” Taylor added.
Taylor, who like Mason played in Thursday’s Rock Chalk Roundball Classic and also attended the banquet where he was one of four panelists (with Dave Robisch, Darnell Valentine and Ben McLemore) in a Q and A session, was a senior in 2012 when KU lost to Kentucky in the NCAA title game.
“All the time,” Taylor said, asked if he thinks about the 2011-12 season. “I found the old Sports Illustrated cover I was on. I worked out with John Henson recently.”
Henson played on the 2011-12 North Carolina team that fell to KU in the Elite Eight, 80-67, in St. Louis. Taylor had 22 points, six rebounds and five assists that game. Henson had 10 points and four boards.
“He was talking about how good they could have been if Kendall (Marshall, injured and unable to play in Elite Eight) hadn’t gotten hurt. These things come back all the time, all the time,” Taylor added of college memories.
The Big 12 Conference ranked fifth of all leagues in number of players taken in the 2019 NBA Draft (four), according to calculations by Zagsblog.com. The ACC was first nationally with 13 picks, followed by SEC (12), Pac Ten and Big Ten (6 apiece). The Mountain West had three draft picks, while the Colonial, Ohio Valley and West Coast Conference had two picks. The Big East and Ivy League had one pick each.
Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver was selected No. 6 overall by Phoenix before being traded to Minnesota. Texas’ Jaxson Hayes was tabbed eighth by Atlanta before being dealt to New Orleans. Iowa State’s Talen Horton-Tucker was selected 46th by Orlando before being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers and the Cyclones’ Marial Shayok was taken 54th by Philadelphia.
KU, which had no picks in the draft for the first time since 2009, has had 33 players chosen since the inception of the Big 12, more than any other league school. Texas has 20 draftees, followed by Iowa State (13), Oklahoma (10), Oklahoma State (9), Baylor (8). Texas Tech (5), Kansas State (3), West Virginia (1) and TCU (0).
Next year’s draft
KU sophomores Devon Dotson and Ochai Agbaji are listed as first-round selections in the 2020 NBA Draft by NBAdraft.net. The draft Website lists Agbaji the seventh overall pick (of New Orleans) and Dotson the 22nd overall pick (of Boston). Senior Udoka Azubuike is listed as a second-round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 41.
Yahoo!Sports speculates Dotson will be selected No. 25 in the first round with no team listed. Yahoo has not yet put out second-round projections.
ESPN.com believes Dotson will be a second-round pick of Philadelphia at No. 31 overall. Agbaji is listed as the No. 38 overall pick (of Chicago).