Catching Up With Dameon Mason

HENDERSON, Nev. - Dameon Mason learned an important lesson Thursday afternoon at the Big Time Round of 32 loss here at Green Valley High School. Why the Illinois Fire fell in overtime to the Atlanta Celtics was no secret.

"We hit two free throws, we win the game," said the 6-5 SF/SG from Aurora (IL) West Aurora. "It's a tough loss. But it's a valuable lesson: Free throws and rebounds win games."

So do guys like Mason - usually. The athletic leaper averaged 23 points and nine rebounds an outing while playing the two and the three positions this past winter at West Aurora.

He got off to a slow start Thursday against the Celtics and ended up with 11 points on 3-for-11 shooting and an ugly 4-for-10 performance from the line. He did come alive down the stretch - he managed to get himself to the line an awful lot - but it wasn't enough.

"I think I was a little too hype," Mason explained. "I was playing a little too fast at the beginning. I needed to settle down and get into my game. And I tried to get my team back into it. We made a little bit of a run but couldn't get it done. But it's been a good summer."

But now it's over - the Fire heads back home on Friday - and Mason is ready to shift his focus to his recruitment and a fall decision on schools. His current list includes Oklahoma, Marquette, DePaul, Auburn and Boston College - but that's open to plenty of revisions before he calls in a commitment.

"I'm going to try to narrow my list down, make a couple official visits - like two or three - and then go from there," he said. "And I want to decide early. Definitely."

Michael Kruse writes for Basketball America and

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