Mason receives Mr. Jayhawk Award at team banquet

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas basketball turned the final page of the epic book that was the 2016-17 season on Tuesday with its annual team banquet. National Player of the Year Frank Mason III received his final award of the season as the senior guard was awarded the Danny Manning “Mr. Jayhawk” Award to highlight the night.

The event was emceed by first-year radio voice of the Jayhawks Brian Hanni, who waxed poetic to warm up the crowd of student-athletes, coaches, support staff, family and donors of Jayhawk basketball.

“What a year for Kansas,” Hanni began. “So many Jayhawks to thank, starting with the star who took this team far – the stud we all know as Frank … So let’s raise our glasses and toast a great season, while looking ahead a bit, too. Another year of big wins, again and again, because we’re Kansas – that’s what we do.”

KU Director of Athletics Sheahon Zenger gave opening remarks and introduced University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. Tuesday’s banquet marks Gray-Little’s final as the sitting KU Chancellor as she will retire after the 2016-17 academic year.

“Congratulations on a remarkable year,” Gray-Little said. “Thank you for your hard work, for sharing the University of Kansas with fans across the country and across the world. Rock Chalk!”

Following season highlight video produced by KU Athletics’ own Rock Chalk Video during a three-course dinner, Coach Self reviewed the highlights of the season and recognized the men’s basketball support staff and introduced the team. Each senior briefly addressed the crowd – one final chance for Mason, Tyler Self and Landen Lucas to say their thank yous.

Self presented the Mr. Jayhawk Award – the only honor presented during the banquet – to Mason, adding to his stacked 2016-17 trophy case, including Big 12 Player of the Year, consensus first-team All-America and National Player of the Year.

“Wow, another award. I really don’t know what to say,” Mason said, prompting laughter from the packed room. “All jokes aside, I just want to thank Danny (Manning) for leading the way. I didn’t really see him play, but I’ve heard nothing but great things. He’s a great guy and a great coach now. I just thankful for him for leading the way for the rest of the Jayhawks. I couldn’t do this without my teammates, coaches, fans and my family – you all played a large role in this.” 

Kansas went 31-5 in 2016-17 and won its 13th-consecutive Big 12 regular-season title. The Jayhawks’ Big 12 title marks an NCAA-record 60 total conference titles. KU’s 28th-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, which ended in the Elite Eight, is now also an NCAA record.

“We are excited about last year, but we are also very much looking forward to next year,” Self concluded. “We say it all the time, ‘Faces change, but expectations don’t.’ … We are very proud of what transpired this year, but I still believe that if we knock on that door enough, eventually you’re going to kick it in.”

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