MINOT, N.D. - In the spring of 2017, a 15-year-old Mason Walters sat with a busted kneecap near the high jump uprights at University of Jamestown’s Taylor Stadium.
Walters would use the freak track-and-field injury as motivation to help fuel a prolific basketball career at Jamestown High School. Walters was voted the 2019 Mr. Basketball award winner Saturday night becoming Jamestown’s second recipient of the award and first since Bryan Flam in 1987.
Walters, a 6-foot-8 forward who has committed to play basketball at NAIA Division II University of Jamestown, led Jamestown High to a perfect 27-0 season and its seventh Class A state championship earlier this month in Bismarck.
“That was the most important goal I wanted to accomplish before I graduated,” said Walters, who helped Jamestown win its first state title since 1993. “It’s certainly a great honor. I’m just thankful for my teammates and the season we’ve all had together.”
Walters received 74 points and 12 of 21 first-place votes in the 5-3-1 Mr. Basketball voting system. The award is voted on and presented annually to the state’s top senior player by the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
Minot Bishop Ryan’s Ben Bohl received 43 points and four first-place votes. Bismarck Century’s Treyton Mattern received 29 points and three first-place votes. Grafton’s Dalton Albrecht received 28 points and one first-place vote. West Fargo’s Luke Lennon received 10 points and 1 first-place vote and Fargo Davies’ Braeton Motschenbacher received five points.
Walters, the North Dakota Gatorade Player of the Year and Class A state tournament most valuable player, posted per-game averages of 21.1 points, 11.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks during Jamestown’s historic 2018-19 season. The Blue Jays became just the fourth known Class A boys basketball program ever to claim an undefeated state championship, and first since Fargo North in 2002.
“He’s the most efficient basketball player I’ve had the privilege of coaching,” said Jamestown boys basketball coach Jacoby Lloyd. “It’s almost like having a sixth sense to go and get the basketball. Some of his advanced stats are just ridiculous.”
Walters averaged 67.8 percent from the field as a senior, but that number soared to 71 percent inside the 3-point arc. He tallied 5.7 second-chance points and 16.3 points in the paint per game. Walters’ career numbers read: 1,187 points, 612 rebounds and 62 blocks.
“One of the things with this team, I never had to call out anything for Mason to get his 20 (points) and 11 (rebounds) every night,” Lloyd said. “It’s validation for all the hard work he put in after the injury he suffered between his sophomore and junior year.”
Walters’ high-jumping mishap during the high school Al Cassell Relays in Jamestown resulted in same-day surgery on his left knee. He missed the 2017 AAU basketball season and summer camps, but Walters tossed himself into the rehabilitation process and didn’t miss a minute of time for the Blue Jays.
“It was tough. I had to do a lot every single day,” Walters said. “But I wasn’t taking anything for granted anymore.”
Between practicing jump shots the last two years, Walters attacked the weight room. The once lanky sophomore tipped the scale at 205 pounds this season, becoming a force in which Class A basketball had no answer for this winter.
“He transformed the way that he ate, the way that he lifted, the way he went about his business,” Lloyd said. “He’s just scratching the surface of what he possibly could become athletically.”
Walters won’t turn 18 until Aug. 7. He’ll be joining a University of Jamestown men’s program that won 29 games and reached the NAIA D-II national tournament’s round of 16 in 2018-19.
“I’m excited. They had a really great season this year,” Walters said of his hometown Jimmies. “I’m just looking forward to getting into the gym, working out and getting bigger.”