SFA basketball family optimistic for return of Coach Wade Mason

WEBXTRA: SFA basketball family optimistic for return of Coach Wade Mason

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - A new-looking SFA basketball team is on campus and getting ready to begin their summer workout program. They are doing so without one of their coaches.

SFA Basketball made it official over the weekend that Assistant Coach Wade Mason had been dealing with colon cancer and had surgery on Friday.

Mason is still in the hospital recovering.

“It hit us all in the head that basketball wasn’t that important right now than what maybe we thought it was," SFA Head Basketball Coach Kyle Keller said. "It puts some things into perspective. It is really important to us and we have high expectations but for Wade and us right now his life is the most important thing for us. I told him when I left the hospital that this is another story that he can tell. It is one more thing he fought through his life. As we do talk to these kids is our story and life experiences.”

Keller said this has been tough on the program but he knows Mason can pull through.

“I got to know Wade when he was a teenager and then when he played for me at Tyler Junior College. I watched him grow at Tulane and then in private business and then watched him grow as a coach. Obviously I am lucky to have him here. We need his energy. It will be great when he walks back through that tunnel and is back with this team.”

SFA basketball family optimistic for return of Coach Wade Mason

Wade Mason’s SFA Profile:

Wade Mason accepted a position as an assistant coach on Keller’s staff in 2016 and has since made a name for himself as a premier recruiter as well as skilled player development specialist as he enters his fourth season on staff in 2019-20. Since Mason's arrival in Nacogdoches, SFA has continued to own a reputation as one of the toughest defenses in the nation and that trend continued in the 2018-19 campaign. The 'Jacks finished the season ranked 21st nationally in turnovers forced per game (15.70). In terms of one-on-one player development that year, Mason played a large part in helping Shannon Bogues (17.9 ppg) and Kevon Harris (17.8 ppg) emerge as one of the nation's most potent scoring duos. Both Bogues and Harris were honored as NABC All-District 23 First Team selections in addition to their All-Southland Conference Second Team laurels. The pair became the first two SFA teammates to each score 500 or more points in a single season in a decade while Bogues' scoring average of 17.9 points per game helped the Killeen, Texas, product become the first SFA player in 20 years - and just the second one ever - to lead the Southland Conference in scoring.

Charged with overseeing the development of SFA’s guards, Mason helped orchestrate one of the nation’s most disruptive defenses in 2017-18. By leading all of NCAA Division I basketball in total steals (360), steals per game (10.3) and turnovers forced (19.77 per game), SFA accumulated 28 wins and punched the program’s fifth ticket to the NCAA Tournament berth by winning the Southland Conference Tournament Title as the number-three seed.

Not just defined by their defense, the ‘Jacks employed a prolific offense as well. Scoring points at a clip of 80.5 per game, SFA established new single-season NCAA Division I-era records in field goals made (1,000), total points (2,819), total rebounds (1,248) and steals (360).

Four ‘Jacks received All-Southland Conference recognition thanks in part to the efforts of Mason and included in that group was sophomore Kevon Harris who turned into one of the team’s key contributors in his second season. Harris averaged 14.5 points per game while shooting 42.6-percent from three-point land giving him an increase of six points per game in addition to a 9.3-percent in long range accuracy from his freshman to sophomore year.During his inaugural season with the ‘Jacks in 2016-17, Mason was a key part in making sure SFA secured a fifth-straight postseason berth. With a veteran backcourt featuring the like of Dallas Cameron - one of only five players in program history who won 100 or more games - SFA again ranked in the top-20 nationally in turnovers forced per game. The 'Jacks were 16th among all NCAA Division I basketball teams in that statistical category, forcing 16.18 turnovers per game.

Recruiting has been another area of expertise for the New Orleans, La., native since he started his tenure in east Texas. The 2019, 2018 and 2017 signing classes for the ‘Jacks were rated as the top of the Southland Conference. SFA's 2019 class featured four of the nation's top 100 junior college products - a number that was matched by just one other college basketball program and exceeded by none.

Before coming to Nacogdoches, Mason spent four seasons at one-time Southland Conference institution Oral Roberts University as an assistant on head coach Scott Sutton’s staff.

At Oral Roberts, the duties belonging to Mason included opponent scouting, pre-game preparation, on-court instruction, recruiting and working with the Golden Eagles’ corps of guards. With Mason on staff, the Golden Eagles played postseason basketball each season – making two appearances each in the Southland Conference and the Summit League Tournaments.

No fewer than eight all-conference honors came the way of various Oral Roberts players through Mason’s four-year tenure. In his final season on staff, Mason helped develop senior Obi Emegano who took home 2015-16 All-Summit League First Team laurels by way of a campaign in which he ranked ninth in the nation in scoring (23.1 points per game) and 13th in total free throws made (198). Two of the three Oral Roberts player that have averaged 20 or more points per game were prepped by Mason.

2012-13 was Mason’s first season as a member of the Golden Eagles’ coaching staff and it was then that his work resulted in Oral Roberts’ run to the third round of the CIT and the team’s first postseason tournament win since 1975. Following their run in the CIT, Mason’s penultimate season with the Summit League institution coincided with a showing in the 2015 CBI where the Golden Eagles edged UC Santa Barbara in the opening round.

Mason began his coaching career during the 2011-12 season by performing one year of graduate assistant duties for head coach Lon Kruger at the University of Oklahoma. Through his season in Norman, Okla., Mason assisted in prepping eventual 2013 NBA Draft pick Romero Osby and helped recruit Buddy Hield and Isaiah Cousins to the Sooners’ ranks.

Both Hield (round one, pick six) and Cousins (round two, pick 59) were chosen in the 2016 NBA Draft.

A high-profile player at the prep level, Mason captained the St. Augustin High School boy’s basketball team during its 1994-95 season that culminated with the club being named USA Today National Champions. Upon graduation, Mason spent the first half of his collegiate career competing for Tyler Junior College which achieved a number-one ranking by the NJCAA during the 1996-97 campaign.

During the final half of his college basketball playing days, Mason suited up for Tulane. As a senior in 1999-00, the team captain helped lead the Green Wave to a C-USA National Division title before the squad earned a berth in the NIT.

Mason collected his bachelor’s degree in media relations with a minor in business studies from Tulane in 2001 and is currently an active member of both the NABC and the TABC. The father of two children - Jalia (18) and Wade III (14) - Mason resides in Nacogdoches and maintains a close relationship with his cousin, Robert Pack, who spent 13 years as a player in the NBA before moving to the coaching ranks of the Association beginning in 2009.

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