KU notebook: Consensus player of year Frank Mason has improved as baseball pitcher too

Frank Mason threw out the ceremonial first pitch last season on August 21, 2016 at Kauffman Stadium before a Roayls’ game against the Twins. | John Sleezer | jsleezer@kcstar.com

By Gary Bedore gbedore@kcstar.com

Former Kansas basketball guard Frank Mason threw the ceremonial first pitch into the dirt past catcher Devonté Graham all the way to the backstop during “KU Day at the K” pre-game festivities last Aug. 21 at Kauffman Stadium.

He’s become a much better moundsman in less than a year.

Mason, college basketball’s consensus player of the year this past season, fired a perfect strike before Saturday’s Richmond Flying Squirrels minor-league baseball game in Richmond, Va.

Yes, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Mason delivered a fastball right down the middle — the ball popping into the Squirrels’ catcher’s glove.

A key to the turnaround?

Well, Mason pitched from the stretch on Saturday. A year ago, he threw from the windup at Kauffman Stadium.

Mason, a native of Petersburg, Va., was back home over the weekend for several festivities. On Friday, the City of Petersburg City Council presented Mason, a graduate of Petersburg High School, a key to the city and declared the day “Frank Leo Mason III Day.”

The school board also honored Mason, and several of his past coaches gave speeches, including KU assistant Kurtis Townsend.

“People are saying Frank has overachieved because of his height,” Petersburg High athletic director Bill Lawson said of Mason on Friday in an interview with wtvr.com. “Frank’s heart is so big, you can’t go by his height.”

Mason, who recently worked out for the Orlando Magic after playing well at the NBA Combine, is hoping to be taken in NBA Draft on June 22.

“A lot of people and kids look up to me because of what I’ve accomplished,” Mason told wtvr.com. “There’s a long ways to go. I want to be the best role model I can to show kids that the future is bright and to always work hard and believe in yourself.”

Mason’s younger brother, Bernard Gregory Jr., has graduated high school and will play hoops at Vance-Granville Community College next season, Richmond.com reported Saturday.

Quickley working on recruiting

Kansas recruiting target Immanuel Quickley, a 6-foot-4 senior-to-be point guard from John Carroll High School in Bel Air, Md., recently cut his list to seven schools with plans to announce three or four finalists by the end of the summer.

“Once I cut my list one more time, I will visit all those schools,” Quickley told Rivals.com on Friday at the Hoop Group Southern Jam Fest in Hampton, Va. Quickley is a Baltimore native who plays for Team BBC AAU.

Quickley, Rivals.com’s No. 15-ranked player in the recruiting Class of 2018, has a list of Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, Virginia, Miami, Maryland and Providence.

“I definitely want to get it done before my high school basketball starts. I just want to get it out of the way and know where I am going and cut it off my list of things to do,” Quickley said of picking a school.

Of KU, he said: “Their skill development stands out. Frank Mason was supposed to go to Towson and ends up being All-Big 12 team and one of the best players in the country.”

Quickley told madehoops.com on Friday that it will be difficult to eliminate any schools.

“I think all of the seven schools fit my playing style,” Quickley said. “… I want a great relationship with the coach and I just want a coach that will trust me. I want to be able to make mistakes and play my game.”

He said he may or may not be a college one-and-done player.

“If the opportunity is presented I’ll take it, but I’ll do whatever it takes to get to reach my ultimate goal, which is the NBA,” Quickley told madehoops.com.

ESPN.com’s Neil Johnson has been impressed with Quickley this spring.

“This combo guard has been lights out from 3, making 41.5 percent of his attempts,” Johnson wrote. “If he can lower his turnover rate (currently at 16.0 percent) and bump up his assist rate (19.9 percent), Quickley could be considered the complete package at the point guard position.”

Hagans, Quickley had matchup recently

Another Kansas point guard target, Ashton Hagans, recently went against Quickley in the Adidas Gauntlet tournament in Atlanta.

Hagans, a 6-3 senior-to-be from Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., who is ranked No. 32 in the Class of 2018, scored 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting with 11 assists and seven rebounds in Game Elite’s 77-73 win over Team BBC. Quickley had 18 points on 5-of-17 shooting with two assists and four rebounds.

Hagans attended Newton High in Covington, Ga., last season where he averaged 14 points, 11 assists and 3 steals a game.

“Most people love to score. I love to pass,” Hagans told USA Today.

Quinerly also on point guard radar

Jahvon Quinerly, a 6-foot senior-to-be point guard from Hudson Catholic High School in Hackensack, N.J., who is ranked No. 26 in the Class of 2018 by Rivals.com, has a list of Kansas, Arizona, Seton Hall, Stanford, Villanova, UCLA and Virginia.

He told Zagsblog.com he hears from “if not all of them, at least like four of them” on a daily basis.

He said he will cut his list again in July or August.

“I’m wide open,” he said.

Class of 2017 KU Targets (rankings by Rivals.com)

▪ No remaining known targets as of Saturday.

▪ 2017 Commitments: No. 38 (by Rivals.com) Marcus Garrett, 6-5, PG/SG, Dallas Skyline High School; No. 10 Billy Preston, 6-9, PF, Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va. Transfer commitments: Dedric Lawson, 6-9, PF, Memphis; K.J. Lawson, 6-7, PF, Memphis; Charlie Moore, 5-11, PG, Cal; Jack Whitman, 6-9, PF, William & Mary.

Class of 2018 KU Targets (rankings by Rivals.com)

No 1: Marvin Bagley III, 6-10, PF, Sierra Canyon High School, Chatsworth, Calif.

No. 2: Zion Williamson, 6-6, F, Spartanburg (S.C.) Day School.

No. 3: Romeo Langford, 6-4, SG, New Albany (Ind.) High School.

No. 4: Jordan Brown, 6-10, PF, Woodcreek High School, Roseville, Calif.

No. 6: Moses Brown, 7-0, PF, Archbishop Molloy High School, Queens, N.Y.

No. 7: Bol Bol, 7-2, PF, Mater Dei High School, Santa Ana, Calif.

No. 8: Darius Garland, 6-0, PG, Brentwood Academy, Nashville.

No. 10: Simisola Shittu, 6-8, PF, Vermont Academy, Saxton River, Vt.

No. 11: Javonte Smart, 6-4, PG, Scotlandville (La.) High School.

No. 12: Quentin Grimes, 6-5, PG/SG, College Park High School, The Woodlands, Texas.

No. 14: Naz Reid, 6-10, C, Roselle Catholic High School, Asbury Park, N.J.

No. 15: Immanuel Quickley, 6-4, PG, John Carroll High School, Bel Air, Md.

No. 17: Emmitt Williams, 6-7, PF, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.

No. 20: Silvio De Sousa, 6-7, PF, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.

No. 26: Jahvon Quinerly, 6-0, PG, Hudson Catholic High School, Hackensack, N.J.

No. 32: Louis King, 6-6, F, Hudson Catholic High School, Hackensack, N.J.

No. 33: Keldon Johnson, 6-6, SG, Huntington (W.Va.) Prep.

No. 35: Jairus Hamilton, 6-7, F, Cannon School, Concord, N.C.

No. 37: Devon Dotson, 6-1, PG, Providence Day High School, Charlotte, N.C.

No. 40: Brandon Williams, 6-2, PG, Crespi High School, Encino, Calif.

No. 46: Jules Bernard, 6-5, SG, Winward High School, Los Angeles.

No. 49: Nassir Little, 6-6, SF, Orlando (Fla.) Christian Prep.

No. 50: David Duke, 6-4, PG, Cushing Academy, Ashburnham, Mass.

No. 53: Jalen Carey, 6-4, PG, Immaculate Conception High School, Montclair, N.J.

No. 61: David McCormack, 6-10, C, Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va.

No. 65: Jaedon LeDee, 6-9, SF, Kinkaid High School, Houston.

No. 69: Jamie Lewis, 6-2, PG, Westlake High School, Atlanta.

No. 91: Aaron Wiggins, 6-6, F, Wesleyan Christian Academy, High Point, N.C.

No. 84: Tyler Harris, 5-10, PG, Ridgeway High, Memphis.

Unranked: Ian Steere, 6-8, PF, Wesleyan Christian Academy, High Point, N.C.

Gary Bedore: 816-234-4068, @garybedore

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