Most of the players at Monday’s Sixers pre-draft workout seemed to tower over Frank Mason III. At just six feet tall, Mason was undoubtedly the shortest player on the floor, and in a league where all the guards are getting bigger, the 23-year-old will certainly be combating the NBA’s new guard prototype.
But lack of height doesn’t seem to have ever been a problem for him. Mason exploded in his final year at Kansas, averaging 20.9 points and 5.2 assists per game while shooting 49 percent from the field and 47.1 percent from beyond the arc en route to being named the 2017 Naismith College Player of the Year.
During his workout with the Sixers Mason flashed all the tools that helped him earn that recognition: speed, solid shooting and composure in the paint. The Virginia native knocked down a deep three over the outstretched arm of a defender before the buzzer in the three-on-three portion of the workout, and finished through Duke’s Amile Jefferson on a few occasions.
“[Frank] did a really nice job this morning,” Sixers vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley said. “He had a terrific year shooting the ball. He’s especially terrific in transition and finishes very well in the paint.”
Eversley think Mason has both the physical and mental tools to make up for what he lacks in the size department.
“I think speed, quickness, toughness,” Eversley said about Mason’s strengths. “He’s courageous, very courageous. He does a lot with his body.”
Mason’s sneaky atheltic, and he’ll be the first to tell you “not too many people know that”. At the combine he posted a max vertical leap of 42 inches, good for third best behind Hamidou Diallo and Frank Jackson.
Mason also has some ties to one player on the Sixers roster that would dwarf him: 7-foot-2 center Joel Embiid. The two were teammates as freshmen at Kansas during the 2013-14 season. Embiid was more of a featured player before suffering a season-ending back injury, while Mason played just 16.2 minutes per game. He would certainly welcome the opportunity to join forces with Embiid once again, as well as the rest of the team’s young core.
“Oh yeah, it would be great to play with JoJo and be a part of this franchise,” Mason said. “I think they’ve got a lot of young players that’s really good that’s working hard, and it’s gonna be special here pretty soon.”
- Amile Jefferson, a Philadelphia native and Friends Central graduate, said the Sixers were his 14th workout in the pre-draft process. “Growing up watching Allen Iverson, Aaron McKie...knowing those guys and just being able to come back and have this opportunity for the team that I loved growing up was nothing short of amazing,” Jefferson said.
- Eversley had great things to say about Jefferson. “He’s a leader. He leads by example. He leads by his voice. He leads by the way he plays and how hard he plays. He rebounds it very well. He’s exceptional in terms of finishing with both hands in the paint.”
- Monday’s workout also featured California guard Jabari Bird, Indiana guard James Blackmon Jr., George Mason guard Marquise Moore and Kentucky forward Derek Willis.