Kansas 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 at University of Phoenix Stadium, site of the 2017 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.
"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.