GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — No piece of hardware could take Frank Mason III’s mind off what could have been.
The senior point guard from Kansas received the AP Player of the Year trophy Thursday at the Final Four. He was there without his teammates since the Jayhawks were eliminated in the regional final by Oregon.
I’ve still been thinking about it. It’s been on my mind a lot,” Mason said when asked if he had gotten over that loss. “And I just have to move on to what’s next. And I just look at the bigger picture and focus on everything that I can control.”
Mason said he expected to be at the Final Four with his teammates and coaches.
“You know, I didn’t plan on doing this,” Mason said. “My goals and our goals as a team was to be here as a family.”
Gonzaga coach Mark Few, the AP’s coach of the year, has his team here as the Zags make their first Final Four appearance.
“I don’t know that it really truly sinks in. And again, it’s a credit to this team that God has put me in position to lead,” Few said. “But again, it’s not really about me. I mean, this is about Gonzaga and this year.”
The Zags, who are 36-1 this season, are in the NCAA Tournament under Few for the 18th consecutive year.
Few, who has a career record of 502-112, received 37 votes from the same 65-member national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25.
Sean Miller of Arizona received eight votes while Chris Collins of Northwestern had seven and SMU’s Tim Jankovich got six.
Few, the third-fastest Division I coach to record 500 victories, said the foundation for success was made by players making sacrifices.
“It’s a unique house. I mean, we’re not from the traditional blue-blood deal, but we’ve worked hard to get to this point,” Few said.
Mason received 37 votes, well ahead of Josh Hart of Villanova, who got 16. Caleb Swanigan of Purdue had nine and Lonzo Ball of UCLA had three.
Mason is the first Kansas player to win the award.
“It’s such an honor to be the first Jayhawk ever to win this award,” he said. “So many great players that came through Kansas, and just the tradition itself. I think it’s something that I’ll always remember and it’s really special.”
Mason was joined at the presentation by his parents.
“I appreciate what Kansas has done for him. I really can’t describe how proud I am,” Frank Mason Jr. said. “Every father should be able to experience what I am right now.”