A talented 6-foot-5, 215-pound two-sport athlete from Madison East High School, Mason goes from the football field straight to the hardwood every school year without missing a beat. Last season for the Purgolders, Mason caught 43 passes for 711 yards and two touchdowns on the football field, only to turn around and 18.7 points, 10.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists for game on the court, leading Madison East to the third round of the WIAA Division 1 tournament.
Although he had scholarship offers from Milwaukee, Northern Iowa and Valparaiso to play basketball, Mason saw the opportunity to play both football and basketball for his hometown school as too much to pass up, a main reason he committed to Wisconsin on April 23.
Over the next three months, Mason has dazzled onlookers with his skills on the AAU circuit and worked hard in the classroom. Despite his busy summer, Mason hasn't lost a step on the football field.
After his 10 catches, 212 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener, not to mention adding two tackles on special teams and one sack and one forced fumble on defense, Mason talked with Badger Nation about his past summer and his future.
Badger Nation: How did the AAU schedule go for you? What did you improve upon and what did you work on to help improve your basketball game?
Mason: It actually went really good. I was able to do a lot of good things with my team in some tournaments with some really good competition. Honestly, my court awareness got better. I am used to a running-type offense and that's how I like to play. With the Swing, they like to slow down tempo, which is something I have to adapt to. My jump shot improved throughout the year and I was able to finish more shots with my right hand.
Badger Nation: You played in some pretty impressive tournaments. What were some of the tournaments that you really enjoyed playing in because of the competition or because of the players?
Mason: I really enjoyed playing in the NY2LA tournament in Milwaukee. That was probably the most competitive tournament that I have played in. There were so much competition and each possession was hard. You had to work hard every time that you step up on the court.
Badger Nation: Since you've committed, what's life been like since you chose to do both football and basket? Has it been a relief or have other schools started jumping in and trying to recruit you?
Mason: It's been really good. It's so relaxing because I don't have to worry about pretty much anything. One school that has been sending me a lot of stuff is UCLA. They have been sending me a lot of stuff about their campus and they wanted me to come out to their camp this summer. Other than that, every school has backed off because they knew Wisconsin was my number one choice.
Badger Nation: Last time we talked, you said you were trying to get in touch with the basketball staff about walking on to the team. Has that been moved in the motion? Have you gotten in touch with the coaching staff to get the information you need to be able to play basketball?
Mason: I have talked to Howard Moore a little bit. I am not exactly 100 percent sure because he never really got back to me. He watched me during the UW team camp and has done some recruiting stuff. I want to say it's for sure but I don't want to because I don't have all the answers yet. I can see it happening, but I can't predict it.
Badger Nation: Even if basketball falls through, how excited are you to be able to play football for Wisconsin and be able to come in and compete?
Mason: Honestly, I want to help the Badgers as much as possible. I have always been a Badger fan. My favorite school is Florida State, but Wisconsin has always been a dream for me. I grew up here, I live in Madison and the team has had a lot of success over the last eight or nine years. For me to get that experience and be a recruit for the football team, I am just looking forward to going out and playing.
Badger Nation: There have been fans that have questioned your respect for opponents or your competitive toughness on the football field. What do you say to those ‘fans' about yourself? Does that fuel your fire?
Mason: Honestly, I want to make my team better on the court or the field. People have their personal opinions about me. When you are a prospect for Wisconsin, everybody is going to have an opinion of what they think you should be. That's there opinion and honestly, it's not going to affect me. One thing that I like to do is prove them wrong. I am here to play and here to contribute.
I am rarely around negativity. I try to keep away from that because it distracts you in the long term. I am just a happy person. Anything that I find enjoyment in will stay with me. I am not around bad stuff too much.
Badger Nation: As soon as AAU was done, what did you do the rest of the summer?
Mason: I have been going through summer school right now since freshman year. I have a very strict schedule, so I didn't have much free time besides football. It's surprisingly not that stressful. I could relax some and get some things done.
Badger Nation: When people hear summer school, they automatically think that an athlete is in trouble with their grades, but that's not the case for you, correct?
Mason: Yeah, my grades are pretty good. I had a pretty good season freshman year that I didn't keep my mind focus on school. I slacked in the classroom and reflected on my transcript. Since then, I've been a lot better.