Saúl Berríos-Thomas | Layout Editor
Micah Mason is being asked to play a new role this year that isn’t as unfamiliar as some might assume.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound junior guard from Natrona Heights will start the season as the primary point guard for the Duquesne men’s basketball team this year.
“I played point guard in high school and at Drake University,” Mason said. “So, I think that I can fill that role pretty easily.”
His high school head coach at Highlands, Shawn Bennis, always knew he could be a point guard.
“Everyone always said he was a two guard, but I have said that he is a point guard since day one, and I think coach Ferry sees that, too,” he said.
Mason played some minutes at point guard near the end of last season, but head coach Jim Ferry feels that Mason will only get better with more opportunities to move and score the ball.
“Having the ball in Micah’s hands not only gets him shots … but also the decisions that he makes are good and he makes us a much more efficient team,” he said.
Had he recorded one more assist last season, Mason would have led the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio.
“Obviously I’m known as a shooter, but not as many people know about other parts of my game,” Mason said.
He earned the right to be known as a “shooter” last year. Mason led the NCAA in 3-point shooting percentage at .560 (65-116). This made him the only player ever to wear the Red & Blue and lead the nation in a statistical category. That number tied the ninth-best 3-point shooting season in NCAA history, was the best in Duquesne history and was the best by a Division I player in 22 years.
But Mason isn’t focused on his own numbers.
“There is a lot more unselfish basketball this year on the team,” he said.
Heading into his third season and first with a roster full of players he recruited, Ferry says the team has quickly gelled together.
“Right now the ball moves well,” he said. “We are going to be a balanced scoring team.”
Mason fits Ferry’s model well. The 21 year-old is finding his place on the Dukes right now. His chemistry with starting backcourt member Derrick Colter will be key for the season. The two are the same year and will share the role of ball-handler for the next two seasons.
As Ferry said, Mason is a “gym rat” and that is what he has been for a while. He once hit 73 3-pointers in a row in a high school practice when he played at Highlands High School just a few miles outside of Pittsburgh. There he was named to the Class AAA first team all-state his junior and senior year.
After high school, Mason decided to attend Drake University to play ball. He played in 30 of 32 games and averaged 5.4 points and 2.2 assists per game. He then decided to bring his talents back to the Steel City and was able to join Duquesne the following season.
Mason is a key cog for the Dukes. They are undergoing several changes at once. After the change in head coach, the team has transitioned in the first two years of the Ferry era.
Ferry has made that easy, but last year the Dukes had a talented gentleman by the name of Ovie Soko. The senior stole the show and the offense ran through him. Now the Dukes are adjusting to life without Soko and Mason is a big part of that.
The junior class is comprised of Mason, Colter and Jeremiah Jones. The only senior on the team is Dominique McKoy. These four will be the leaders of the team and with Mason playing point guard that will be a big part of his leadership on the court. The young talent on the roster will look to them to develop what is going to be the Dukes’ identity moving forward.
Off the court, Mason also wants to be a leader, but that was a little less focused on that last summer. After his first season with the Dukes the then 20 year-old, along with Jones, had a run-in with the police on Pittsburgh’s Southside. Everything was eventually dealt with internally and charges were dismissed, but it affected the pair’s ability to lead.
Jones discussed the impact the incident had on them.
“It was a silly mistake. People make mistakes all the time,” he said. “It actually made us both better people and better leaders for our team because we understand that the younger guys look up to us. We faced a little adversity, we overcame it and we are ready to move forward.”
This season is important in the scope of Mason’s career at Duquesne. He has the opportunity to become a key figure at the center of the Dukes’ offense. He also will have to adjust his game being the primary ball-handler will not give him the open corner and wing three’s as often as he had them last year.
Mason is ready to face the season head on and is confident that he will do well in his new role.