Sometimes being a rookie means being patient.
That’s what Frank Mason III has done most of this season
It hasn’t been quite like his freshman season at Kansas, but it’s as close as Mason has come to being a spectator on his basketball team.
“Freshman year I played 15 minutes a game, and I thought I should be starting as a freshman but Coach (Bill Self) thought different,” Mason said. “So I just played the role of coming off the bench (backing up Naadir Tharpe) and I think I was pretty good. Sophomore year I adjusted and started.”
Mason has become part of the rotation as a reserve, averaging 20.7 minutes over the last three outings. As the No. 3 point guard, it’s been hard to come by extending playing time.
When Kings coach Dave Joerger made the switch to starting two point guards, George Hill and De’Aaron Fox, that opened up playing time for Mason, whose tough-minded approach is needed on a team searching for its collective fight many nights.
Listed at 5-foot-11, Mason is the shortest player on the Kings. But the collegiate All-American and Player of the Year as a senior has always been viewed as a fierce competitor and leader.
It’s been tough for him to watch from the bench, but he has remained positive while putting in extra work to stay mentally and physically ready for his opportunity.
He knows the Kings (4-13), who have lost games due to a lack of energy, can use his competitive edge.
“I think every team needs that,” Mason said. “That describes me, that’s my personality. That’s who I am, every possession offensively, defensively, I just have an aggressive mindset – attack, attack, attack. And just be physical on the defensive end.”
Joerger praised his “determined doggedness.”
“He’ll get up and guard, push the basketball,” Joerger said. “He’s a threat to score. You have to close to him because he can really shoot the basketball. I think he’s going to get more comfortable.”
Mason, much like he did as a freshman with the Jayhawks, has not lost any confidence.
“Just working hard, believing in myself and trusting the process and just staying in shape,” Mason said. “Getting in the extra shots and whenever the time comes, just be prepared mentally and physically and I think I’ve been good with that and staying positive.”
It appears Joerger plans to keep Mason in the mix for the foreseeable future and would like to see how he does with extended minutes over a few games.
Mason is ready for that and more.
“I’m feeling comfortable with whatever role they give me,” Mason said. “I’m just doing my part and working hard, staying ready, staying in shape and just being ready when my name’s called.”
That plan worked for Mason at Kansas, too.