Walters preparing to explore Division I options around the country
Walters has offers from teams in 16 different states.
JAMESTOWN — In the days and hours that have followed Mason Walters officially announcing his intention to play his fifth year away from the University of Jamestown, the senior’s phone has been blowing up.
“It’s been a lot of phone calls, it’s been kind of crazy,” Walters said. “But it’s been pretty cool to see all the coaches reaching out, and people showing interest.”
As of March 23, Walters has been in contact with 22 different schools, including North Dakota State University, South Dakota State University, and two teams that made it to the 2023 NCAA Tournament, Drake University (Iowa) and Montana State University. Walters said he is not going to make his decision on a school’s proximity to home.
“I’m open to everything at this point. I’m not focused on staying close or going far away,” Walters said. “Whatever has the best fit and where I think that they want me the most and where I can be the most impactful.”
If Walters does go to play for Montana State, he will be the second person to go from the Jamestown men’s basketball program to the Bobcats after former head coach Brad Huse. Despite the connection, Walters said he has yet to reach out to Huse to talk about the Bobcats program.
One of the things that Walters said is atop his checklist for the prospective schools is the ability to win. During his Jimmies career, he was part of a lot of winning as the team went a combined 93-39. Out of the current 22-team list, the team that has the best record this season is Montana State who had a 25-10 overall record.
During his first time being recruited, Walters’ furthest trip was Minot State University, 171 miles away from Jamestown. As of March 23, his furthest trip will be to Bryant University, in Smithfield, Rhode Island, 1,701 miles from Jamestown.
“We (are) flying out to see schools now instead of driving to see them, I guess, so that will be different,” Walters said. “It will be cool to see some different kinds of basketball programs.”
As of March 24, Walters’ tweet announcing his intention to transfer has over 150,000 views, 67 retweets and 519 likes. Walters said he expected coaches to call but he did not expect the tweet to blow up as much as it has.
Walters finished his Jimmies career with 2,662 points and 1,239 career rebounds, both of which are the most in a career in program history. He was named the NAIA Player of the Year for the first time, an NAIA First Team All-American for the third time in his career, among other accolades. The Jamestown native leaves the program owning eight different season or career individual records.
“He’ll go down as the best player to play here,” Jimmies head coach Danny Neville said. “This definitely caps it off for him getting this award (NAIA Player of the Year). Like I said, it’s very deserving, the only player in the country to be a three-time first-team All-American. So, it’s definitely been in the up and coming for this award and he’s very deserving and it couldn’t go to a better kid.”
Walters said he has not yet reached out to people that he knows at the schools recruiting him. Walters is the first player to go from the Jimmies men’s basketball program to the NCAA Division I level.
“I really enjoyed my team at UJ, thankful for that and if that’s what people want to do after me, cool, if not so be it,” Walters said.
Despite the success of some of the programs that he has spoken to, Walters said he has not paid a lot of attention to how the programs did this past season and is taking his time with the process.Walters is trying hard to stay in the moment and not think about what his future career has in store outside of the fact that he is hoping to play professional basketball. In keeping with his grounded view of the situation, Walter said it is too early in the process to start digging into the schools and seeing what notable alumni the schools send to the National Basketball Association (NBA) or to Europe.
Walters said he is hoping this process helps him see how he stacks up against the competition at the Division I level and helps him off the floor as he moves away from home.
“It’s a little stressful right now talking to a lot of different programs trying to see through it all, trying to figure like I said what my next steps are going to be and what’s best for me. But at the end of the day, I just have to sit down with my family and talk it over with them and figure out where we go from here and make the best decision for myself and my career.”
Walters said he is anticipating having his decision made by the middle of May at the latest to give himself the ability to play with his new teammates over the summer.