KU senior Frank Mason wins the Wooden Award as national player of the year
Frank Mason’s next stop is likely to be the NBA, but he will miss his time at Kansas, both on and off the court.
In his piece, Mason wrote about how his mother raised him and his seven siblings basically on her own, and that he eventually got a scholarship to Towson University. However, Mason failed his U.S. and Virginia Government class in high school and lost the scholarship (Sam Mellinger wrote this touching piece about Mason’s teacher for that class).
Mason went to military school instead and eventually landed a scholarship to Kansas. So, yeah, things turned out well in the end.
In the opening to his letter, Mason wrote about how coach Bill Self challenges his players.
“Something most people don’t know about Coach is that when he’s all over you in practice — and he’s usually all over you — he wants you to talk back. He likes when you get agitated. If you’re not talking back, he goes even harder,” Mason wrote.
After then recounting his tale of growing up in Petersburg, Va., (including how he got the nickname “The Phenom”), Mason wrote about the long road to Kansas. His time there ended with the 74-60 loss to Oregon in the Elite Eight game in the NCAA Tournament at the Sprint Center.
Mason still feels the sting of that loss, but he won’t let it overshadow his love for Kansas.
“It didn’t end how I wanted — after the Oregon loss, I tweeted that it felt like my life was over — and, man, it’s still hard to shake that feeling of disappointment,” he wrote. “Sitting back in the locker room, where guys were crying and feeling terrible, I had no choice but to focus on the positives and on what’s next. Graduation. The opportunity to give my son a better life than I had growing up. I thought about how far I’d come, from being a guy who couldn’t qualify to play at Towson to the Wooden National Player of the Year at one of the best programs in the country.
“When I was up on the stage at the Wooden presentation, I took a moment to look around and appreciate all the good people and friends around me that day. KU has given me the family I’ve always needed. The culture around here — the fans, the coaches, everyone around here is just great people. One of my favorite things to do this year has been to go up to the academic advisers’ office and just chill, and talk about life. I like to go to the Underground — the cafeteria underneath Wescoe Hall — and hang out and eat Chik-fil-A with the other students. I’m going to miss all the genuine people at Kansas, my teammates — I want to thank them for how much they’ve impacted my life on and off the court, and for making the decision to play at Kansas the best one I ever made.”
You can read the entire piece here.