Yale men’s basketball names Makai Mason next captain

Yale's Makai Mason, center, drives between Duke's Marshall Plumlee (40) and Grayson Allen (3) during the first half in the second-round of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Providence, R.I., Saturday, March 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – It wasn’t easy for junior Makai Mason to watch from the bench this season. Mason, who earned first team All-Ivy recognition and scored 31 points in Yale’s NCAA Tournament victory over Baylor as a sophomore, suffered a season-ending injury in a closed scrimmage with Boston University one week before the opener at Washington. What he saw, though, from his teammates made it much more bearable.

“Watching the growth of everyone on the team, and every individual embracing a bigger role made it easier,” he said.

Mason’s support of his mates didn’t go unnoticed. He has been elected captain of the 2017-18 Yale men’s basketball team. The announcement was made at the end of Wednesday’s postseason banquet following a team vote. Mason will join classmates Landon Russell, Noah Yates and Eric Anderson in leading the Bulldogs.

“I’m honored to be elected captain,” said Mason, who had been selected as last year’s preseason Ivy League Player of the Year by a number of outlets. “I’m excited to have the privilege of leading this group of guys alongside Landon, Noah and Eric. I think everyone is excited about the potential that this team has for next year.”

The Bulldogs, who despite Mason’s absence reached the championship game of the inaugural Ivy League Tournament before suffering a close loss to Princeton, return a wealth of talent and will be a heavy favorite to make it back to the Ivy Tournament next year.

Mason will certainly be driven to lead Yale to the postseason.

“Being out so long made me appreciate playing the game more and made me even more passionate for the game,” he said.

Mason said his recovery Is going well. He is currently able to participate in most basketball activities.

“It feels great to be back out there again,” he said.

Mason burst onto the national college basketball scene when he shot 9-of-18 from the field and 11-of-11 from the free throw line en route to scoring 31 points in Yale’s 79-75 upset of Baylor in the NCAA Tournament. It capped a breakout season for Mason, who became just the fourth sophomore in school history to earn first team All-Ivy recognition. He finished fifth in the Ivy League in scoring (16.0 ppg.), third in assists (3.8 per game), sixth in free throw percentage (.806) and third in minutes played (32.7 per game).

As a freshman, he was the recipient of the team’s John C. Cobb Outstanding Freshman Award and was third on the team with 51 assists.

“Makai is a natural leader who has great knowledge of our program,” said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of the Bulldogs.

Yale is tentatively scheduled to open the 2017-18 season against Creighton on Nov. 10.

Report filed by Tim Bennett (timothy.bennett@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity

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