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Walters attracting heavy D-I basketball interest after 4 stellar seasons at University of Jamestown

Jimmies forward Mason Walters played four seasons for the Jimmies men's basketball program and plans to transfer to an NCAA Division program for his final college season.

uj mens hoops walters vs dordt 022823.jpg
University of Jamestown's Mason Walters (33) pulls down a rebound over Dordt's Lucas Lorenzen during the GPAC Championship on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, at Newman Arena.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

FARGO — Mason Walters is going through the men's basketball recruiting process for a second time with a much different interest level than he garnered following his prep career.

The Jamestown High School graduate had three offers coming out of high school from the University of Jamestown and Valley City State — both NAIA programs — and NCAA Division II Minot State.

Walters announced Wednesday via social media his intent to transfer for his final season of college eligibility after four historic seasons at the University of Jamestown. By early Wednesday evening, Walters said he had heard from around 50 Division I programs, including more than 10 offers.

“It’s definitely a lot different," said Walters, who has grown two inches since high school. “It can be kind of overwhelming. It’s cool though as well. I could also have nowhere to play next year.”

Earlier this week, the 6-foot-9 Walters was named the NAIA men's basketball player of the year, averaging 26.6 points and 9.4 rebounds in helping the Jimmies advance to round of 16 in the NAIA national tournament for a third consecutive season.


"It was definitely pretty special," Walters said, crediting his coaches and teammates for helping him win the national honor.

Walters played in 119 games during his career, finishing with 2,662 points and 1,239 rebounds. He averaged 22.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game for his career. He was a three-time, first-team All-American.

“It’s surreal and it’s kind of cool because I’ve seen him grow up, watching him in high school in Jamestown," said Jimmies head coach Danny Neville, who has been the program's head coach for eight seasons. "I’ve gotten to follow his career for a long time.”

Walters has one more season of eligibility remaining due to COVID-19 and said the timing was right to find another program to play for in that extra college season.

“We had a lot of great memories," Walters said. "A lot of good wins, but now I’ve graduated, I’ve done my time. I’m going to try to use my extra year to play at the Division I level and go up against other competition.”

As of early Wednesday evening, Walters said North Dakota State, South Dakota State, the University of South Dakota and Omaha were among the Summit League teams that had contacted him. He added most of the interest was from Division I mid-major programs with some interest from high-major programs.

Walters said finding the right fit is paramount.

"I only have one year left to do this so I want to go somewhere where I can play, somewhere where I can continue to develop my skills and be part of a winning culture and a winning team," Walters said. "Obviously no coach can promise you minutes, but at the same time I want to go somewhere where I have a chance to play and compete.”


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Walters won North Dakota Mr. Basketball in 2019 and helped the Blue Jays to an undefeated Class A state championship to cap that 2018-2019 season. NDSU guard Boden Skunberg also played on that Blue Jays state title team.

Walters said a reunion with Skunberg could be intriguing, but added he's keeping his options open at this point of the process.

“It would be cool to play with him if that was the best fit for me," Walters said.

Walters said his plan is to weigh his options over the next few days and then eventually narrow down his list and take some visits. He would like to make a decision no later than mid-May.

Walters said his ascent to a highly regarded D-I prospect is something he hadn't planned.

“It just kind of happened to be honest," Walters said. "I’ve always believed in myself, but it was never like a main goal for me to be a Division I basketball player. Now it’s possible and I put myself in a position and it’s pretty cool.”

Neville said he's gone from recruiting Walters out of high school to now discussing Walters' strengths to Division I coaches.

“Obviously you don’t want to lose him, but it’s cool to sell him and tell other people how good of a kid he is and how hard he works," Neville said. “You kind of feel like a junior college coach. ... I was recruiting him on the front end and now on the back end I’m selling him.”


Neville said before this past season started, he knew this would be Walters' final one with the Jimmies and that has made for a smooth process.

“When we first got him we knew he had the chance to be a pretty good player, but I don’t think any of us knew he could be this good," Neville said. “It’s a pretty good telling of him. He felt like he was a good enough player to get better offers, but he went for the best fit and the best school for him and look what happened.”

Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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