Antoine Mason: Auburn Basketball’s New Star


Nov 26, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Niagara Purple Eagles guard Antoine Mason (14) brings the ball up court during the first half against the Pennsylvania Quakers at the Palestra. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Ask a casual college basketball fan to name the nation’s leading returning scorer and you will get a blank stare. Ask an Auburn fan, and he or she will tell you all about Antoine Mason.

As a fourth-year junior at Niagara University, Antoine Mason scored an average of 25.6 points per game during the 2013-14 season, which ranked second in the country. Only Creighton’s Doug McDermott (26.9) scored more on average and he is now a member of the Chicago Bulls.

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The 2013-14 campaign was great overall for Mason. He led the nation in free throws made with 260, which was 26th most all-time in a single season, and also led the country in free throws attempted with 357. Mason ranked fourth in the nation in field goals (269), third in field goals attempted (612) and played more minutes per game (37.3) than all but nine other players across the nation.

As a junior, Mason had 12 30-point games and 23 20-point games. He shot 44% from the field, 26.8% from three-point range, averaged 3.6 rebounds per contest and added 1.5 assists. Of course, Mason was no one-year wonder: his performance last season moved Mason into third place on the school’s all-time scoring list.

In 2012-13, Antoine Mason was a first team All-MAAC performer and finished second in the conference in scoring with 18.7 points per game on average. He was Niagara’s leading scorer in 18 of the 29 games he played, and set a career high in free throw percentage (79.4%). It was also his best season behind the arc. Mason hit 34 of the 108 three-point shots he attempted as a sophomore (31.5%).

Mason has great bloodlines. His father, Anthony Mason played in the NBA for 13 seasons and for six different teams. At 6-foot-2 and 216 pounds, the younger Mason did not receive his father’s 6-foot-7 height. However, it hasn’t stopped him from becoming one of the most prolific scorers in the nation.

Following the 2013-14 school year, Mason graduated and decided to look elsewhere to conclude his college career since he was immediately eligible to play anywhere. He needed to find a bigger stage so that NBA scouts could see him, and specifically to see him play against stronger competition, to follow in his father’s footsteps.

He’d also like to have a better chance at success in terms of wins and losses. The Purple Eagles were just 7-26 last season.

“I love Niagara,” Mason told SB Nation’s DevonTe Brooks in June. “I wish I could have stayed there my whole career, but things changed. The coach did not want me to score as much or play as many minutes as I did last year. It being my last year, I wanted the best opportunity to make it and being restrained from excelling was not going to be it.”

He should have plenty of opportunities to excel at Auburn. Under new head basketball coach Bruce Pearl, much will be expected of the high scoring shooting guard in his senior season.

Auburn was 14-16 last year and stumbled to a 6-12 record in Southeastern Conference play. The Tigers haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2003 and have not captured an SEC Championship since 1985. Mason was also coveted by Providence, Boston College, LSU, Cincinnati, Memphis and Pittsburgh, among others. So why choose Auburn?

“The campus was amazing, but the people treated you like family,” Mason told Brooks. “The coaches, players, football players and everyone else made me feel like I was home.”

Auburn will be home to Mason for one season. Expect he and Pearl to make it a memorable one.