In a herd of reporters at the NBA draft combine, one reporter whispers to another about the player with microphones and tape recorders in his face, "Who is that?" It's former Kansas point guard Frank Mason III, college basketball's consensus national player of the year. After a dazzling senior season — averaging 20.9 points and 5.1 assists a game — one that led coach Bill Self call the crafty guard as the "most deserving player" he ever coached to win player of the year (including his long list of NBA draft lottery selections), Mason is back to being nobody. "I'm used to it," the 5-11 guard from Petersburg, Va., said. "Ever since high school, I never really got the respect I deserved. I never really paid attention to that because I knew what I was capable of and who I was. So now, I just focus on what I can control. At every level, you have to go out there and prove yourself." Mason will surely need to play with that chip on his shoulder at the next level, where he figures to join a fraternity of college superstars who mostly haven't taken their dominance to the NBA. Since 2001, only three players who won college player of the year — Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Anthony Davis — have been an NBA All-Star. Denzel Valentine, USA TODAY Sports' 2016 player of the year, averaged 5.1 points a game for the Chicago Bulls this past season. The three previous POYs, Frank Kaminsky, Doug McDermott and Trey Burke, have been contributors but not stars. Kaminksy has averaged 9.5 ppg in his career, McDermott has averaged 8.0 ppg and Burke averaged 5.0 ppg for the Wizards in 2016-17. Others include 2008's college POY, Tyler Hansbrough, who is now in the D-League, and 2011's POY Jimmer Fredette, who now plays in China.
Frank Mason III aims to be a college player of the year who stays a star
USA Today | May 21