Taywyn Mason was still looking for his first dunk of the season as his Waite basketball team headed into Friday night’s City League game against Woodward.
The Indians’ 6-foot-3 junior guard, one of the top scorers in the league, said he’s “hungry for a dunk.”
“I’ve had some steals this year,” he said, “but I haven’t had the opportunity for a dunk. But, two points are two points. I just get my buckets and get back down the court.”
|Waite guard Taywyn Mason aims for a basket
during a game with Start High School. (Photo
courtesy of Innovations Portrait Studio)
Mason has had plenty of baskets this season for first-year coach Adam Rodriguez, whose squad graduated several seniors last year. The Indians were 1-18 (1-8 CL) – their only win was over Woodward – prior to Friday’s rematch with the Polar Bears.
“Taywyn has been a pleasant surprise,” said Rodriguez, who coached Whitmer’s junior varsity team the last two years. “We knew he was going to be our leading scorer. He’s pretty smooth, and he’s got a decent jump shot and some good length. He’s not afraid to get shots up; he’s a pretty confident kid. Even though he didn’t have any varsity experience, he had a lot of confidence in his game.”
Mason, who is Waite’s tallest player, saw some varsity action prior to this season and was named a co-captain along with 6-2 senior forward Kenyatta Bowen, the team’s leading rebounder (7.0). Through 19 games, Mason was averaging 18.2 points and 6.5 rebounds and was shooting 38 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the free throw line.
His eight 3-pointers in a single game set a school record, and he is nearing the school single-season mark for shots made beyond the arc. He scored a team-high 19 points in Monday's 76-61 home loss to Scott.
Mason opened the season with 11 points against Sandusky and 14 against Fremont Ross. He ripped Scott’s 2-3 zone defense for 30 points in a Dec. 21 loss to the Bulldogs.
“I had 20 the game before that, against Northview,” Mason said. “My coaches told me to keep shooting and keep doing what I’m doing. (Rodriguez) said if I didn’t score, we had no chance of being in the game. We were losing the (Scott) game and I felt I had to put the team on my back to win the game. I had to play 110 percent to try to win the game.”
Rodriguez said that game showed Mason’s teammates he was capable of putting up big numbers.
“He was just a little more aggressive against Scott,” Rodriguez said. “The next night he had 28 against Dublin Coffman. The kids started buying into it and they started looking for him, and he’s been pretty good ever since.”
At 170 pounds, Mason still has plenty of room to add bulk before his senior season. He said he can eat as much as he wants and has trouble gaining weight, but he plans to hit the weight room hard in the offseason. He also plans to help make Waite basketball relevant again next year.
“People think I’m weak and I’m not going to do anything because I’m skinny,” Mason said. “I had butterflies before my first game and my hands used to sweat. Now, I’m ready to put on a show. I want to go out and play hard. I want people to know we have talent at Waite.”
Rodriguez said Mason, who has a 2.9 GPA, is handling the Indians’ difficult season the best way he can. As the season has progressed, teams have done more face guarding and are using more trick defenses to try to slow Mason down.
“He’s never complained and he just keeps playing hard,” Rodriguez said. “He’s really gotten better since the first time we met him on Oct. 1. He’s gotten better by leaps and bounds. Once we get him in the spring and summer and get him in AAU – he’s never played AAU before – we’re hoping he puts on 15-20 pounds. Who knows how good he can be. It depends on how hard he works at it.”
Mason said this year’s team is focused on winning a game at the sectional tournament and building momentum towards next year. He also has his heart set on playing ball at the next level.
“None of us want the season to be over,” Mason said. “We really do love each other. We’re a family. Look out for Waite next year. We’re going to have a real good season. I’m going to stick with the program and I’m going to graduate from Waite. I feel like if I put my mind to something, I can do it. I want to play Division I basketball, and that’s what I’m going to do.”