Former New York Knick enforcer Anthony Masons son, Anthony Mason Jr, was the leading scorer on St. Johns last season. This is somewhat of a dubious distinction, though, considering that the team has gone 38-49 in his three seasons so far, and finished 14th in the Big East last year.
On paper, were talking about a (potentially) fairly interesting NBA prospect. Standing 6-7, with a nice frame, long arms, and terrific athletic ability, Mason Jr fits the ball physically for what scouts look for at the small forward position.
Offensively, Mason Jr is fairly talented as well, showing potential with his ability to hit shots off the dribble and particularly beyond the arc, where he hit 38% of his 3-point attempts. Scoring 14 points per game in the Big East is nothing to sneer at, but unfortunately Mason Jr needed an unbelievable amount of shots each game to get to that number. His 16.8 field goal attempts per-40 minutes ranked him 6th in the Big East last season, of which he converted only a dismal 42%. Add in the fact that he rarely gets to the free throw line (and only converts 67% of his free throw attempts once there), and you realize that were talking about an extremely inefficient offensive player.
Mason Jr has two major and very much related issues which he will have to resolve if hes to have any chance at playing in the NBAhis ball-handling skills and shot-selection. He struggles badly to create shots for himself off the bounce (especially with his left hand), sporting a very high dribble, and looking very limited in his ability to change directions with the ball and get to the rim. For that reason, he relies very heavily on his pull-up jumper from mid-range, not hesitating in the least bit to go one on one and then shoot an incredibly difficult fade-away jumper off his back heel with a hand in his face. According to Synergy Sports Technology, 50% of Mason Jrs jumpers came off the dribble, which is a very high rate.
Mason Jrs inability to create high-percentage scoring opportunities makes him extremely predictable in this aspect, and thus very easy to guardhence the poor shooting numbers, and consequently (at least partially), his teams record last season. Hes a fairly good passer, but turns the ball over so much that he largely negates that. Despite possessing excellent size for a small forward, he rarely takes advantage of that by posting up smaller players inside.
Defensively, we find mostly a mixed bag as well. He has excellent tools here, a nice frame, good length, and the athleticism needed to make an impact. The problem is that his fundamentals are extremely poor, losing focus easily, not doing a great job containing his man on the perimeter, and gambling excessively in the passing lanes. Hes also a fairly mediocre rebounder considering that his physical tools, which has everything to do with toughness and effort, traits that Mason Jr currently does not stand out in.
There is no question that Mason Jr would have to significantly change his mentality and overall approach to the game if hes to draw even remote interest from the NBA. Fortunately for him, his athleticism, pedigree and numbers in a strong level of competition such as the Big East will get him a fair amount of looks in the form of workouts and invites to places like Portsmouth and possibly the NBA pre-draft camp, should he fare well there. Its not too late for him to turn a new leaf, and its possible that some of his struggles last season had to do with the eight games he missed due to injury.