KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When Kansas coaches sat down with Frank Mason III before his senior season and started to iron out his goals, the John R. Wooden Award was not something that ever came up.
The John R. Wooden Award is presented annually to the most outstanding men's college basketball player.
Wooden Award Top 20
It wasn't something that even crossed Mason's mind. He was too busy focusing on their discussion. They wanted him to be more vocal and get his shot off quicker.
"Nah, I never thought about it," Mason said. "I thought about what we could do as a team to be successful. I never thought about what I can do to be player of the year. It's just happened that way."
The Wooden Watch is about to make way for the actual award presentation. Voting wrapped up on Monday and the results will be announced on April 7. Mason is positioned to be the recipient.
That's pretty good for a kid who originally signed with Towson out of high school, which is something Mason says he thinks about all the time.
"I always knew I was better than Towson, it was just me taking the opportunity because of where I was from," Mason said. "Not too many people get those opportunities, a scholarship for basketball. I'm just blessed to be here at Kansas and I'm thankful for the opportunity, just trying to make the most of it."
Towson University, just north of Baltimore, has never had a Wooden Award winner. Should Mason take the award, he'll join Danny Manning (1988) as the only Kansas players to win it.
Mason said it's not something that he can even appreciate while the Jayhawks are chasing a national title.
"It don't mean anything to me right now," Mason said. "I guess it would mean more when I'm older ... but now I just want to win a national championship and that's what we want to do as a team."
The next step in the Sweet 16 will pit Mason against Purdue sophomore forward Caleb Swanigan, who has been a Wooden Watch mainstay this season. The two won't be defending each another, unless it's briefly, so Mason doesn't see it as a personal matchup.
"It's not me versus Swanigan, it's Kansas versus Purdue," Mason said. "I'm not really thinking about national player of the year. I'm just thinking what can we do to be successful as a team."
1. Frank Mason III, Kansas Jayhawks
Mason averaged 21 points and 6.5 assists as the Jayhawks defeated UC Davis and Michigan State to advance to the Sweet 16.
2. Caleb Swanigan, Purdue Boilermakers
Swanigan almost dropped a triple-double on Iowa State in the second round, finishing with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists in the Boilermakers' 80-76 win. He also had 16 points and 14 rebounds in their first-round win over Vermont.
3. Josh Hart, Villanova Wildcats
Hart had seemingly found a way to win all season but came up short against Wisconsin in the second round. His last-second shot attempt was stripped by the Badgers Vitto Brown. Hart had been efficient all season but did not have an assist in his final two games -- the first time all season he was held without one.
4. Lonzo Ball, UCLA Bruins
Pops is still talking, but Ball is still delivering. He had a very efficient 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting with nine assists and seven rebounds in the Bruins' 79-67 win over Cincinnati.
5. Johnathan Motley, Baylor Bears
Motley, like Swanigan, posted double-doubles in both of his NCAA tournament games. In the Bears' 91-73 win over New Mexico State in the first round, Motley went for 15 points and 10 rebounds. In their 82-78 win against USC, it was 19 points and 10 rebounds.
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