Frank Mason III, a small point guard, finished his four-year college career as the consensus national player of the year. Tyler Dorsey, a 6-foot-4 combo guard, declared his eligibility for the NBA draft after scoring 1,000 points over two years at Oregon. Besides their blue-blood pedigree — Mason attended Kansas, while Dorsey’s Oregon Ducks advanced to the Final Four and lost to the eventual champion, North Carolina — the players share little in common.
However, since both have been projected as late second-round picks, and the Washington Wizards own the 52nd selection, Mason and Dorsey met up at Verizon Center for Monday’s pre-draft workout.
The Wizards hosted a six-man group that included forwards Moses Kingsley (Arkansas), Ben Moore (Southern Methodist), Michael Young (Pittsburgh) and 7-foot center Isaac Humphries (Kentucky). At least for Mason and Dorsey, it was the second time the team has expressed interest. Both players said they had previously interviewed with the Wizards during the NBA combine in May.
“I study the team, every little detail. I want this to be my job, so I got to know everything coming in,” said Dorsey, relaying how he prepared for his meetings. “I study and take notes before coming in, what they need, what they’re looking for, and also just being myself. Just playing my game.”
During Mason’s chat with the Wizards and interviews with other teams, he used his age and experience as assets, and not handicaps. The 23-year-old Mason, who averaged 20.9 points and shot 47.1 percent from the three-point arc in his senior season, knows the first round will be dominated by underclassmen. However, Mason still believes franchises can use a graybeard like himself.
“Just how loyal I am,” Mason said, tying the fact that he remained in college for four years with admirable qualities. “How I’m a team-first guy. It’s always ‘we’ instead of ‘I,’ and if we win, the pie’s big enough for everyone. I don’t have to tell them about my toughness because they see that. My unselfishness and my playmaking skills, they pretty much see everything else.”
At the combine, Mason measured at 5-11, but last season in the NBA, several shorter players found ways to make an impact. While 5-9 Tyler Ulis cracked the rotation with the young Phoenix Suns, the diminutive Yogi Ferrell jumped from the NBA Development League to a multiyear contract with the Dallas Mavericks. Standing above all, 5-9 Boston point guard Isaiah Thomas made the all-NBA second team while leading the Celtics to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
“I watched a few of those games from those different players. I see them out there and they [are] doing their thing, but you know, I never really use other guys to inspire me,” Mason said. “It’s great to see smaller guys playing really well and out there competing, but I always believed in myself and knew what I was capable of.”