Area high school basketball standouts racking up points in college
Fred Jeter | 2/5/2016, 12:35 p.m.
The University of Kansas has won three NCAA basketball tournaments —1952, 1988 and 2008.
If the Jayhawks are soon to add No. 4, look for Frank Mason III at center stage.
Area fans recall Mason as Petersburg High School’s do-it-all megastar. In 2012, Mason guided the Crimson Wave to the Central Region title and runner-up finish to Hampton High School in the State Group AAA basketball championship.
Both the region and state events were held at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Siegel Center in Richmond.
Since then, the 5-foot-11 whirlwind has lifted his area and state star power to a national level.
The University of Kansas was ranked No. 7 by the Associated Press starting this week, with Mason a leader in almost all categories.
While he wears No. 0, he’s anything but a zero on the statistics sheet.
In spurring Kansas to a 17-4 mark as of Feb. 3, Mason is first among the Jayhawks in minutes played (33 per game), assists (4.7 per game) and steals (1.7 per game).
He ranks third in rebounding (5.0) and scoring (13.3) while shooting .411 overall from the field, .397 beyond the arc and .760 at the foul line.
To go with all that, the versatile 21-year-old even had a song written in his honor by rapper RedHead, whose name is Derek Minigan.
The song, with a parental warning of “explicit content,” is available on YouTube. Minigan is from Hopewell and was inspired by watching Mason play for Petersburg.
It’s a long haul from Petersburg’s asphalt courts, where Mason honed his jump shot, to Houston’s NRG Stadium, site of this year’s NCAA Final Four on April 2 through 4.
If Mason and the University of Kansas get that far, it won’t be the first time a local athlete was in the Final Four spotlight.
In 2009, Ed Davis, out of Benedictine, was a freshman on the University of North Carolina’s national championship team. In 2008, Shawn Taggart of George Wythe High School helped Memphis to the finals, where the Tigers lost to Kansas in overtime.
In 2011, Brandon Rozzell from Highland Springs High School and Bradford Burgess from Benedictine were keys to VCU’s Final Four run.
The Richmond area has become a boon for college scouts. Here are other local athletes playing for schools with national brands (statistics, records as of Feb. 2):
Devin Robinson, Florida: The 6-foot-8 sophomore averages 9.1 points and 6.0 rebounds for the 14-7 Gators. Robinson grew up in Chesterfield (Manchester High School district) but transferred to Christchurch School.
Michael Gbinije, Syracuse: The 6-foot-7 graduate student from Benedictine leads the Orangemen in scoring (17.2), assists (4.5) and steals (2.4) for the 15-8 Atlantic Coast Conference squad. Gbinije, who transferred to Syracuse from Duke, is from Chesterfield County.
Robert Johnson, Indiana: The 6-foot-2 sophomore out of L.C. Bird High School in Chesterfield and Benedictine has started 16 of 22 games for the 18-4 Hoosiers. He averages 7.5 points with 29 three-pointers.
Andrew White III, Nebraska: After transferring from Kansas, the 6-foot-7 junior leads the Cornhuskers in scoring (17.0), rebounds (6.3) and three-pointers (57). White played at Thomas Dale High School before finishing at Miller School.
Troy Caupain, Cincinnati: The 6-foot-3 junior from Cosby High School has started all 22 games for the 16-6 Bearcats. He is second in scoring (6.0) and first in assists (97).
Kenny Williams, North Carolina: Off to a slow start, the 6-foot-4 freshman from L.C. Bird High School has played in 18 games for the 19-3 Tar Heels. Williams first signed with VCU.
Jordan Burgess, VCU: Sidelined eight games with a hand injury, the 6-foot-5 junior from Benedictine averages 5.4 points and 4.6 rebounds, and is a lockdown defender for the Rams, which has 11 straight wins.