Izzo: Jamestown's Mason Walters bet on himself. Now he's ready to cash in.
Walters was named NAIA player of the year Tuesday and entered the transfer portal Wednesday.
Over the last two years during basketball season, I've heard the same question. How did everyone miss on Mason Walters?
That question seems even more pressing this week. Tuesday Walters was named the NAIA National Player of the Year at the University of Jamestown. Walters averaged 26 points and 9 rebounds in leading the Jimmies to the NAIA Sweet 16.
The physical traits were always there. The 6-foot-9 forward has great touch and a ferocity on the glass are traits any school would want.
During his high school days at Jamestown, most of the attention went to now Bison Boden Skunberg. But it was Walters who was the steady force, helping the Blue Jays to a unbeaten season and state title.
It's not like everyone missed. Minot State offered Walters. Head coach Matt Murken still regrets it to this day: "He's so good, what comes to mind about Mason, I should have offered him more money!" Murken told me on Hot Mic last month.
Instead Walters stayed home and became a legend. He's the school's all-time scorer and rebounder. He led the Jimmies to the Elite Eight in 2021, their first trip there in 18 years.
Walters has another year of eligibility from the COVID-19 pandemic and Mason told me last month he was going to test the transfer portal when the season ended. Walters made that announcement official Wednesday. He says he's heard from the Division I Dakota schools and I've been told there are other mid-majors that have checked in.
So schools that missed out the first time now have a second chance. Instead though of Mason hoping for an offer, he'll have his choice of some high profile schools to go play.
But none of this would have happened had Walters left home. He stayed. And now his future is wide open.