Joey Sykes | The Duquesne Duke
Ex-WPIAL standout and 2011 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Player of the Year Micah Mason has announced that he plans to transfer to Duquesne for the coming academic year.
The Highlands High School basketball star played only one season at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, before making the decision to come back home.
“Being out here [in Iowa], I just felt like something wasn’t right,” Mason said. “Being able to play in the city I grew up in is a dream I always had.”
Mason, who announced his departure from Drake University via Twitter, has more reasons than one for leaving. Mason was diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome in June 2011. POTS is a condition where a person’s heart rate increases significantly when they are in an upright position. Symptoms include lightheadedness and heart palpitations and the symptoms can range from mild to incapacitating. Most people diagnosed find that their symptoms eventually fade away in time.
“I was at a point two summers ago where I couldn’t go outside and shoot around because my doctor told me my symptoms would get worse,” Mason said. “I lost around 30 pounds at one point, I thought that was it for my playing career, you know? I did eventually get back on my feet obviously and was thankful teams were still interested in me.”
In addition to that, Mason cannot eat any foods that contain gluten. To help Mason manage POTS and his dietary restrictions, his mother Karen moved with him to Iowa.
“I mean, I am very thankful for a supportive family,” Mason said. “I’m especially thankful for my mom and what she has done for me by coming out here.”
Friend and teammate at Drake, Robert Puleikis, said he would miss Mason.
“It’s a bummer for sure to see him go since we just got to be close friends,” Puleikis said. “But of course I wish him the best back in Pittsburgh.”
Mason’s former high school basketball coach, Shawn Bennis, said Mason’s love for his family and teammates is easy to see.
“Micah is a great kid and the way he acted around his teammates and family showed it,” Bennis said. “I enjoyed having him be a part of our team.”
While at Highlands High School in Natrona Heights, Pa., Mason drew interest from Duquesne, University of Pittsburgh, Colgate and Drake scouts. Mason chose Drake because of the attention he got from their coaches.
“Before I even committed to Drake, Duquesne was really interested in me,” Mason said. “I am happy that Duquesne was a choice for me again to go to even though I denied their offer the first time.”
At Drake, Mason averaged 5.2 points per game, 2.2 assists per game, and was 50.6 percent beyond the 3-point line (fourth in the nation). While at Highlands, he broke the record for most 3-pointers in WPIAL history.
Bennis is excited to see Mason come back to Pittsburgh and play at Duquesne.
“It may be a bit selfish of me, but I am so happy to see him come back,” Bennis said. “There is no doubt in my mind he is going to shine here.”
Mason will not be able to play for the Dukes next season unless granted an exemption by the NCAA. NCAA rules state that transfer student-athletes must sit for an entire season before they are eligible to play.
Mason said he has been thinking about his future at Duquesne quite a bit.
“I am looking forward to meeting the guys and practicing with them,” Mason said. “It’s going to be awesome to meet new people there and get to experience a new college environment.”
Mason added that Duquesne was a choice for him if he chose to return.
“It [Duquesne] was a school I could go to if I ever decided I wanted to go home,” Mason said.