Frank Mason had a message for the honorary coaches who managed the Red team bench during the 11th-annual Rock Chalk Roundball Classic contested Thursday night at a jam-packed Eudora High gymnasium.
“I told ‘em I didn’t want to come out. I wanted to play the whole game,” said second-year Sacramento Kings backup point guard Mason. He scored 33 points while playing the entire first half and almost all of the final stanza of a KU alumni game in which players substituted in and out at a rapid-fire pace.
“You can’t be selfish about it,” Mason quickly added. “Everybody gets to play.”
The 25-year-old Mason, who played the first 27 minutes, then took a short breather, combined with teammates Perry Ellis (22 points), Mario Little (21), Kevin Young (15), Travis Releford (11) and Keith Langford (10) for a majority of the Red team’s points in a 127-124 victory over the Blues.
“Winning,” Mason said of his biggest goal entering the game. “I want to win everything I play.”
Ben McLemore, who played 19 games with Sacramento last season, then was released and now is a free agent at the age of 26, exploded for a game-high 42 points for the Blue squad on Thursday.
McLemore, who was joined in double figures by Tyshawn Taylor (18), Brandon Rush (14), Elijah Johnson (13) and Mario Chalmers (10), did take some regular breathers, unlike his former Kings teammate, Mason.
“Frank definitely entertained the fans tonight. He did that four years at Kansas,” McLemore said. “He was a great teammate. I played with him (last season). I’m sure we’ll definitely come back (here) next year.”
A special video was played during a timeout that featured pictures of McLemore and his younger brother, Kevin, who died last November.
“I actually didn’t know (there would be video). It touched me,” McLemore said. “Obviously he’s looking down on me keeping me in high spirits. I miss him, love him. I’m doing everything I do each and every day for him.”
McLemore was on the top of his game Thursday, cashing eight threes. He hit a three with less than a minute left to cut the gap to 125-124. Mason followed with a driving layup with 20 seconds left. Down three, the Blue’s Rush missed a three with 4 ticks to play.
“The big thing is to come out here, have fun, entertain the families and kids,” McLemore said. “It’s for a great cause (proceeds go to families battling cancer). It’s great to see former teammates and other Jayhawks and have a great time.
“The passion of the kids is special. I’ll continue to come to this.”
Wichita native Ellis hit two threes en route to his 22 points for the winning Red squad.
“Always,” Ellis said, when asked if he felt the “love” from the fans in the packed gymnasium. “Kansas kid … it’s a great feeling.
“I mean this is a family. Everybody is so excited to be here. It feels like you know everybody, even if you didn’t play with them,” Ellis added.
Ellis said he was glad to be on the same team as Mason.
“It was awesome. He’s still going at it. He’s still a dog,” Ellis said of Mason, who is hoping to return to Sacramento next season. “I told them (teammates on bench) … I said, ‘He’s probably about to play the whole game.’’’
Red 127, Blue 124
BLUE (124): Ben McLemore 42, Tyshawn Taylor 18, Brandon Rush 14, Elijah Johnson 13, Mario Chalmers 10, Kenny Gregory 7, Cole Aldrich 6, Clay Young 5, Billy Thomas 3, Scooter Barry 3, Tyrel Reed 2, y-Kelton Ford 2, Natalie Knight 2, Brandon McAnderson 0, Sherron Collins 0, Jeff Graves 0.
RED (127): Frank Mason 33, Perry Ellis 22, Mario Little 21, Kevin Young 15, Travis Releford 11, Keith Langford 10, Dezmon Briscoe 5, Jeff Hawkins 3, Monica Engelman 2, Russell Robinson 0, Sasha Kaun 0, Stephen Vinson 0.
x-scores did not add up because of scoreboard error. y-Kelton Ford was youngster asked to play in second half.