NAIA Player Spotlight: Nykolas Mason – SAGU (TX)
Accolades: 2nd team all-conference, SAC freshman of the year, NAIA All-American honorable mention.
There are coaches out there, who turn over every rock, looking for players. Not because they can’t recruit, or because they are desperate, but because they know that by turning over every rock, occasionally you find a gem. Southwestern Assemblies of God (SAGU) Head Coach Delton Deal is a “turn over every rock” type of guy. One of his most recent gems he uncovered was Nykolas Mason, who he found playing in a church league game.
You see, Nykolas only made varsity on his high school team, as a senior. Even then, he was still riding the bench as the 11th man. He averaged just 3ppg, and playing college basketball was nowhere close to being on his mind. From there, he would attend the University of North Texas, as a student. UNT ended up being a little bit overwhelming for him, and he lost his way a bit, and ended up back home after his freshman year. From there, he decided to just take classes at a local community college, and work towards a two year degree.
Even though Nykolas didn’t play much in high school, he still loved to hoop. His passion to play the game remained in him even after high school, so he tried to hoop, for fun, in as many pick up games at local high schools and rec centers that he could. During this time, something else was happening to Nykolas. He was hitting a growth spurt. One that would take him from 6’0 tall, to 6’6. The local trainers and former college players that he was playing against took notice, and reached out to their connections to try to get some college coaches to come see him. They all wanted film, so Nykolas and his buddies set up a camera in order to film the pick up games, in hopes that he could get the attention of some college coaches. One of the coaches who took notice, was Coach Deal at SAGU.
When Coach Deal came calling, Nykolas really didn’t know what he was looking for in a school. Mostly just an opportunity, however when Coach Deal offered him a scholarship to play at SAGU, he believed it was the right fit for him. He had visited a couple other colleges, before SAGU, and while he wasn’t sure what it was, the other schools didn’t feel like it was right for him. His SAGU visit however, made him feel at home.
Playing at SAGU and in the Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) is quite a bit different then the church leagues he was used to playing in. It was a huge jump in competition, but it was something that was very exciting for Nykolas. He believes that they play in the toughest conference in the NAIA, but he loves the challenge the league presents, and that every game is a battle, no matter the records. While the league is one of the best in the country, Nykolas still was able to have a great freshman year, as he was named SAC Freshman of the Year, and All-Conference – Second Team. That was good enough to earn him a spot on the NAIA Honorable Mention All-American Team.
Nykolas is extremely grateful for Coach Deal, and everyone else who believed in him. The opportunity he was given at SAGU changed his life. He has gone from a being just a regular guy working at a shoe store to now receiving awards as a college basketball player. He is thankful for all of God’s blessings, and is ready to get his sophomore season started!
Nykolas wants to win a national championship more than anything. He is excited to get the entire team to campus so that they can start bonding with the new guys. He wants to take on more of a leadership role this year and is excited for that responsibility. Nykolas has been working hard to add a few things to his game for this upcoming season, and is eager to get to work with the entire team, as they work towards their goals of winning a National Title.
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