Mason awarded USBWA Oscar Robertson Trophy

Kansas' Frank Mason III (0) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a basket during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Stanford Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, in Lawrence, Kan. Kansas won 89-74. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Courtesy: KU Athletics

PHOENIX – Kansas basketball senior guard Frank Mason III has been named the winner of the Oscar Robertson Trophy as the national player of the year in voting by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

Mason was presented with the award by “The Big O” himself at a news conference Friday at University of Phoenix Stadium, site of this year’s NCAA Final Four.

“To be the first player from Kansas to win the Oscar Robertson Trophy is amazing as there have been so many great players at KU,” Mason said. “There is no way I could have won this without great coaches, like coach (Bill) Self, the rest of the staff and great teammates. We accomplished a lot this season and this award would not have been won without my teammates and coaches.”

A consensus first-team All-America selection and the USBWA’s District VI Player of the Year, Mason is the first Kansas player in school history to receive national player of the year honors from the USBWA since the award was first presented to Robertson in the 1958-59 season. Mason won the player of the year balloting in eight of the USBWA’s nine districts and is the second straight USBWA National Player of the Year from the Big 12 Conference, joining Oklahoma’s Biddy Hield last season.

“The announcement of the Oscar Robertson Trophy winner to the best men’s college basketball player in the country has always been a great way for me to tip off Final Four weekend,” Robertson said. “It is a pleasure to honor the winners, their families and their coaches, and to follow the progress of their careers as they join such recent winners as Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Andrew Bogut and David West.”

An under-recruited and little-known player out of Petersburg (Va.) High School, Mason went on to become one of Kansas’ all-time greats and the Jayhawks’ first All-American since Thomas Robinson in 2012.

Kansas coach Bill Self predicted that Mason’s jersey one day would hang from the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse, Kansas’ fabled home court.
“Frank has had a terrific four years at Kansas. He has become better and matured each year, culminating with the best season that I’ve ever had a player have that I’ve coached,” Self said. “He was the leader, the personality and the most consistent performer on a very good team, averaging close to 21 points and more than five assists per game. More importantly, Frank basically led us through every tough moment, which is what separates him from so many and makes him worthy of this award.”

Mason, who will graduate this spring with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and sciences, finished his career sixth on the Kansas all-time scoring list with 1,885 points, sixth in assists with 576 and eighth in 3-point field goals with 185. No Jayhawk player in KU history ranked sixth or higher in both points and assists.

Mason averaged 20.9 points and 5.1 assists this season while shooting 48.7 percent from 3-point range. The 2017 Big 12 Player of the Year and a three-time all-conference pick, Mason became the only player in KU and conference history to average more than 20 points and five assists in the same season.

Mason had a knack for taking over games, leading Kansas to a 31-5 record this season, a 13th consecutive Big 12 regular-season championship and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. During Mason’s four-year career at Kansas, the Jayhawks won four Big 12 regular-season titles, one Big 12 Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight twice.

Kansas was ranked seventh or higher in every Associated Press poll for the last two seasons and was No. 1 seven weeks in that span.

The Oscar Robertson Trophy is voted on by the entire membership of the association, which consists of more than 900 journalists. It is the nation’s oldest award and the only one named after a former player. The legendary Oscar Robertson was the USBWA’s first player of the year in 1959 and was the consensus national player of the year as a sophomore in 1958, the year before USBWA started giving its player of the year award. The USBWA renamed the award the Oscar Robertson Trophy in 1998.

The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. Today, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball. For more information on the USBWA and its award programs, contact executive director Joe Mitch at 314-795-6821.

Mason’s 2016-17 Season Summary
Became the only player in KU and Big 12 history to average more than 20 points and five assists in the same season.
Showed a knack for taking over games, which directed Kansas to a 31-5 record and its 13th consecutive Big 12 regular-season title with a 16-2 league mark.

Led the Big 12 in scoring overall (20.9 ppg) and during conference play (21.0 ppg).
Averaged 5.2 assists per game.
Two-time national player of the week.
Three-time Big 12 Player of the Week.
Posted 23 games of 20 or more points, including his final seven contests and 10 of KU’s last 11 outings.
KU’s leading scorer in 26 games.
In the Big 12, Mason ranked first in 3-point field goal percentage (47.1), fourth in assists (5.2), fifth in 3-pointers made per game (2.3), fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.2), seventh in free throw percentage (79.4), ninth in field goal percentage (49.0) and 14th in steals (1.3).
Made 50.0 percent (43-for-86) from 3-point range and 2.4 treys per game in Big 12 play.

Shot 103-for-119 (86.6 percent) from the free throw line in his final 15 games, making 6.9 charity shots per contest in that span.
Concluded his career No. 6 on the Kansas scoring list (1,885 points), No. 6 in assists (576), No. 8 in 3-point field goals (185), No. 13 in steals (165) and tied for third in consecutive starts (110). No Jayhawk in KU history ranked sixth or higher in both points and assists.

NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR COUNT
Frank Mason III’s National Player of the Year honors and the remaining awards he is a candidate for.
USBWA Oscar Robertson Trophy
Associated Press Player of the Year
Sporting News Player of the Year
CBS Sports Player of the Year
USA TODAY Player of the Year
Bleacher Report Player of the Year
NBC Sports Player of the Year
NABC Player of the Year – April 2
Naismith Trophy – April 2
Bob Cousy Award for Point Guard of the Year – April 7
Wooden Award – April 7

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