Hoops Recruiting: Barnes, Horns Nab Guard

Amarillo Palo Duro has been cranking out prospects lately. Last year it was Austin Johnson to Oklahoma and now the school has sent another guard to the Big 12.

Justin Mason, a 6-foot-2 shooting guard out of Amarillo (Tex.) Palo Duro High, is headed to Texas. Mason committed to the Longhorns after mulling over offers from Texas Tech, Texas A&M, New Mexico, Colorado State and SMU.

"He took an unofficial visit there last Friday," Palo Duro coach Jeff Evans said. ‘I think he was just very impressed with the visit. Their reputation counts for a lot. Coach Barnes reputation counts a lot. It's a family atmosphere with their team and their coaches. He wanted to play in the Big 12 and play for a team that had a chance to do something and they felt like he could step in and play as a freshman."

As a junior, Mason averaged 19.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals. Talk about well rounded? His high school coach heaps the accolades on this guard that somehow managed to fly below the national radar (you can see him this summer with Dallas Showtime).

"He's a one or a two guard," Evans said. "He's 6-foot-2 and he's very athletic and very strong, in an explosive sense. He doesn't really have a weakness, he can shoot the 3 and he's got a good mid-range game which I think is a little more rare today.

"He'll just keep on trying to get better at the things he does well. There's not a glaring weakness that he has to improve. If there is one area that he'd focus on the most it would be to try to keep being a better shooter and challenging himself more that way."

Evans said that there's reason to believe Mason will continue to develop. He's seen the young man make strides each season.

"Between his freshman and sophomore year he just lived in the gym. He kept that work ethic all through high school. He made up his mind one day that he wanted to be good."

Mason's commitment is Texas second in the Class of 2006. Scout.com's second-ranked player, Kevin Durant, committed to the Horns two weeks ago.

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