Massanutten finds rooting interest in NCAA tournament

By Jeff Nations

It promises to be a huge week for Kansas point guard Frank Mason and Wofford forward Zac Grossenbacher.

Both graduates of Massanutten Academy’s postgraduate boys basketball program, the pair will take part in this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament. They’ll have their legions of fans to provide backing when those teams tip off later this week, but rest assured they’ll also get long-range support from Woodstock.

Simply reaching the NCAA tournament as former Massanutten players is a great selling point to future recruits to the program, Colonels coach Melvin Abrams said. Anything they do beyond that — individual or team-wise — that might provide additional exposure to Massanutten Academy is simply a bonus.

“It helps,” Abrams said. “It’s pretty much every high school basketball player’s dream to play at the highest level possible. I think most kids that have aspirations of playing college basketball have visions of appearing in that “One Shining Moment” video they show at the end of the tournament.”

Mason has the better shot of that happening this year. The 5-foot-11 freshman from Petersburg is the Jayhawks’ backup point guard and will likely see plenty of minutes when No. 2 Kansas takes on No. 15 Eastern Kentucky in an NCAA South Region second-round game on Friday in St. Louis.

Mason has been a key contributor for the Jayhawks this season, averaging 5.7 points while dishing out 66 assists during the season as Kansas posted a 24-9 record while dealing with the nation’s toughest schedule.

Grossenbacher, originally from Parkersburg, W.Va., would be a bit more of a surprise to get much face time on national television. A lightly-used reserve for Wofford, the 6-8 forward averaged 2.0 points and 0.8 rebounds per game for the Terriers.

Wofford, the No. 15 seed in the NCAA Midwest Region, takes on No. 2 Michigan in Thursday’s second-round game in Milwaukee. The Terriers won the Southern Conference tournament championship and enter NCAA play with a record of 20-12.

Regardless of how their teams fare, Mason and Grossenbacher are providing benefits to their former school simply by making it to the NCAA tournament.

“It’s an opportunity to showcase our program,” Abrams said. “It lets people see how guys who came through this program made it to the next level. It’s like if they could do it, why not you?”

Any possible recruiting tool couldn’t come at a better time for Abrams, who is testing out a new concept this weekend when Massanutten plans to host about 25 potential recruits to its postgraduate program on Saturday.

“We’re going to try something a little different,” Abrams said. “Traditionally we’ve brought guys in on a one-on-one bases, or had maybe a group of three or four in at a time. Now we’re getting as many as we can together on campus, which should help us to evaluate them in all facets and allow us to get some of the guys on the court for some drills. It’ll help free us up to get out in the spring and not be in conflict with the AAU season.”

Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or jnations@nvdaily.com>