Yale sophomore point guard Makai Mason will declare for this year’s NBA draft, reports Forbes contributor Darren Heitner (Twitter link). Mason’s father confirmed the news to Pete Thamel of SI Now (Twitter link). The 6’1″ sparkplug averaged 16.0 points per game this season, but he’s a long shot NBA prospect. It seems likely that he’s simply taking advantage of new rules that allow him to work out for NBA teams and later withdraw from the draft while retaining his college eligibility. He’s the 152nd-best prospect in the listings that Chad Ford of ESPN.com compiles, while Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress has him outside his rankings.
Mason burst onto the national scene with a 31-point game Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against Baylor, leading Yale to the upset. He didn’t fare nearly as well in Saturday’s second-round game against Duke, going 2 for 12 from the floor for eight points to go along with seven assists and four turnovers as the Bulldogs season came to an end.
Questions about his size and his ability to defend will no doubt hamper whatever pro prospects he has, though entering the draft, a move that will allow him to work out in formal sessions against draft entrants with a better shot to hear their names called in June, gives him a chance to see just how large the gap is between his game and the NBA level. Chris Dudley, who played parts of 16 NBA seasons between 1987 and 2003, was the last player from Yale to appear in the NBA.