Chalk up another one. Frank Mason III has already won the Associated Press player of the year award, the Naismith Trophy , the Oscar Robertson Trophy and the National Association of Basketball Coaches player of the year award. Friday night he completed the award season sweep of prestigious NCAA awards with the grand-daddy of them all. Now, Mason can dust off a spot for the John Wooden Award too.
The Wooden Award is the most prestigious award in college basketball. It is awarded to the Most Outstanding College Basketball Player in the United States. A candidate’s performance in the regular season, conference tournaments and postseason are taken into account by voters, as is the player’s character. Tim Duncan, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and former Kansas all-star Danny Manning have all won the award in the past.
Though Kansas didn’t make it to the Final Four, Mason was on hand to pick up several awards last weekend.
Mason beat out Lonzo Ball (UCLA), Josh Hart (Villanova), Caleb Swanigan (Purdue) and Nigel Williams-Goss (Gonzaga) to win the Wooden Award. Mason and University of Washington’s Kelsey Plum swept all the awards in men and women’s basketball this season.
Kansas coach Bill Self praised the 5-foot-11 Petersburg, Va., native.
“He’s meant to us as a program as much as any one player has since I’ve been here,” said Self, who has completed 14 seasons at KU. “I don’t think anybody would argue … I don’t know if there’s ever been any player tougher than Frank Mason wearing the Crimson and Blue. “Frank sets the tone. Frank is our energy giver, more so than anyone else,” Self added. “He’s been the best guard we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
During his senior year, Mason averaged 20.9 points, 5.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game while hitting 48.7 percent from three-point range. He is sixth on the Kansas all-time scoring list with 1,885 points. He’s sixth all-time in assists (576) and eighth in three-point field goals (185).
Mason says winning the award with Naismith’s name on it brings his experience full circle because Naismith invented the game and was the first coach at Kansas.
“I learned a lot from Frank,” said KU freshman Josh Jackson, one of 10 players on the Wooden Award All-America team. “One of the biggest things is his competitive drive, spirit, will to win, how tough he is, never afraid of any challenge.”
Mason is the fourth KU player to win the NABC Award winners are: Mason, Danny Manning (1988), Nick Collison (2003) and Drew Gooden, who shared the honor with Duke’s Jason Williams in 2002, but the list of KU players to win multiple awards is even shorter. Mason and Manning are the only Jayhawks to have won the Naismith Trophy. Mason is the only KU player to bring the AP and USBWA awards back to Lawrence.
“The No. 1 thing is he is an absolute winner,” Texas’ Shaka Smart said. “Contrary to what some might believe, that’s what they are looking for at the next level, too. He’s done a great job leading that team. He’s done a great job sparking balance of being a point guard who runs his team and organizes his team and then also taking the big shot and making the big shot and being a big-time offensive threat.”
Mason humbly thanked everyone from his parents, and teammates to competitors recently “Thanks to the NABC for selecting me for this award, my amazing parents and family for supporting me, my coaches and teammates and all the competition for pushing me to be the best I can be. I wish them the best and thanks.”
He took his gratitude to Twitter to dedicate KU Coach Bill Self. “Thanks for everything coach, you have no idea how much you’ve help me grow in 4 years, on and off the court.”