Most athletes never win three over their entire career. Much less in a year, and especially not in the same month.
But that’s exactly what has ben accomplished by Alexis Mason.
The sharpshooting junior has won three consecutive Southland Conference Player of the Week Awards. It’s a feat that has not been accomplished since 2012, when Central Arkansas’ Megan Herbert won it following weeks 12, 13 and 14 of the 2011-2012 season.
Like any true teammate, Mason’s first and foremost concern is the status of the team. With ACU defeating Houston Baptist Wednesday night at home, 77-60, the Wildcats move to an incredible 17-2 and perfect 8-0 in league play. To top it off, it’s ACU’s 13th consecutive win, with their last lost coming from Texas Tech on Dec.2.
In summary, the team is good.
“My mindset of this category has changed a lot since high school,” Mason said. “I used to want the recognition and really was driven to get the individual recognition. Now that I’m in college, I really don’t care about all that individual stuff, as long as we’re getting wins and playing at a high level.”
As much as Mason wants to give credit to her extra time in the gym and teammates, the truth of her success goes back further than that.
The Milwaukee, Wisconsin native spent the first 12 years of her life with a lot of snow in her backyard. That didn’t stop her dad from getting her and her siblings outside to shoot some hoops.
“My dad has always been a basketball freak,” Mason said. “I’ve always been into basketball because of him and my sister. We spent so many afternoons shooting in the backyard. When we moved to McKinney, we were out there even more as we were older and because the backyard wasn’t filled with snow.”
Like any good big sister, Amanda, who also played college basketball, continuously pushed Alexis to the limit. Several one-on-one games would go down to the wire. Most would go Amanda’s way, but sometimes, Alexis would accomplish the sweet moment of beating her older sister.
“I always wanted to be better than her,” Mason said. “She’s always been good. We’d always play one-on-one and I’d try my hardest to beat her. She really pushed me and if it wasn’t for her, I don’t think I’d be nearly as good as I am now. She really challenged me mentally and physically growing up. I owe her a lot.”
Mason has been one of the most dominant players in the conference this season, averaging career-bests in points per game (16.7), rebounds per game (4.1) and free-throw shooting (82%). She also leads the conference in scoring during league play at 20.3 points per game, as she has been an important cog in the ACU offense that leads the conference in scoring at 76.6 points per game.
With the level of success that she has helped the Wildcats obtain this season, a player of the year nomination is more than feasible with half of conference play in the books.
It didn’t take long for Mason to find her role for the Wildcats. Even as a freshman, the women’s basketball community could tell that there was something special about this 5-foot-9, three-point shooting guard.
But even after an impressive first year campaign, she, along with the team, took a step back in her sophomore season.
“We had a great freshman season,” Mason said. “Sophomore year we kind of fell off the wagon and we didn’t do as well as we had hoped for. I feel like we were still trying to get to know each other and see each player’s individual strengths and weaknesses.”
Coming into 2015 as an upperclassmen, Mason knew that if her play was going to be loud, her leadership needed to match.
“Last year, we didn’t really have any set leaders, which is why we lost a lot of games we should have won,” Mason said. “This year, I’ve really worked on being more vocal in practice. I’ve tried to let the freshmen know when they make mistakes and try to help them through it.”
For as much individual accolades she’s collected this season, Mason is smart enough to know that she doesn’t lead this team alone. Three other juniors who came in with her, Lizzy and Suzzy Dimba, Sydney Shelstead and senior veteran Whitney West Swinford, are the core of the Wildcats.
“Our chemistry is really good and we knew we could do something special this year,” Mason said.
Mason recorded her first career double-double in the win against HBU, tallying 18 points and 11 boards, making her again another prime nominee for the player of the week award. Mason could win every player of the week award and individual accolade from now until the beginning of March, but she said nothing would be as sweet as finishing at the top of the conference.
“A conference championship has been the goal since day one,” Mason said. “We knew when we came to ACU that we could accomplish something special and so far we have. These kind of winning-streaks just don’t happen. There are a lot of great teams in this conference. But right now we’re the best. It would just be nice to be able to play in the tournament.”
END OF SEASON UPDATE
Alexis Mason, who was one of the most consistent players in the league all season long, received the recognition she much deserved. On March 8, Mason was voted as the Southland Conference’s Player of the Year and named to the First-Team All-Conference. Mason led ACU in scoring at 17.6 points per game, which ranked second in the conference. She also was one of the top shooters, registering a 43 percent clip from the field and 36 percent from three. Mason started in all 29 games for the Wildcats and scored double-digit points in all 18 conference games.