Anthony Mason was a huge part of the New York Knicks during the 90's. He was the enforcer. In that era basketball was a rough and tough game and not many were ever tougher than Mason was in orange and blue. That being said, he only averaged 9.9 points in his five season with the Knicks (10.9 over his 13 year NBA career). However, his son's game is different and he's the NCAA scoring leader.
To be a great scorer in basketball you have to be fearless. You can't get intimidated. To be truly great, you have to believe nothing can stop you. That's where Antoine Mason has an edge over everyone in college basketball. Before he steps onto the court for Niagara University he has to get past his father Anthony Mason. Who and what is going to intimidate Antoine after he deals with his father?
Like his father, Antoine didn't get a chance to play for a major program and instead has had to go the small-school route to play college ball. However, like his father, he's been averaging 28 points in his senior year. Also, like his father, Antoine has his eyes on a future on the NBA.
"Let's keep it honest," Anthony said of Antoine's pro potential. "He's the No. 1 scorer in the country. Somebody's watching."
Fortunately for Antoine, he has something his father didn't as a college player with his eyes on a professional career in basketball. He has his father's experience and knowledge to rely upon and ready him for the trials and tribulations that ly ahead on his way towards an NBA career.
"I know what it takes to make it," Anthony said. "All you ever hear when you go to that level is how hard it is. The odds are 20,000 to one. That was my chip."
Antoine and the Purple Eagles are 4-13 under first-year coach Chris Casey. However, that hasn't stopped Antoine from pumping his scoring average up to 28.3 points per game in his fourth year in the Niagara program.
Anthony made sure Antoine learned at a young age that he could hang with anyone.
When Antoine was in middle school and tearing it up in the suburbs of Westchester, Anthony took him to Rucker Park.
"Because if you don't play in the city, you don't play basketball," Anthony said. "He was getting his ass handed to him at first. When he stuck it out, I knew he was going to be special."
Now, there's no telling what kind of a pro Antoine could be. His father averaged 28.0 points as a senior at Tennessee State and was never a big scorer in the NBA. In fact, he bounced around a bit and even spent time playing overseas and in the USBL before landing with the Knicks in 1991.
Even Antoine's brother is now playing for the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the D-League. Nothing is a given. For every small-school scoring leader who makes it there's many other's who are never heard from again.
That's why his decision at the end of the year is an important one for Antoine. Thankfully, he'll have his father beside him to help make that decision. Antoine still has a year of eligibility left after being a redshirt freshman, despite the fact he graduates this spring.
Antoine will either get the chance to spend another year working on his game at Niagara or see what fate awaits him in the pros. History says that Antoine's odds of making it aren't very high. That might be reason enough to remain in college and polish his skills. Then again, there's very little chance Antoine is intimidated by the NBA. Not after learning at the feet of his father.
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