By Steve DiMiceli
We’re beginning to hear from the NCAA on what transfers will be eligible to play immediately. We learned last week that former Rutgers standout Derrick Randall will be allowed to play immediately at Pitt because Mike Rice was probably mean to him. Hopefully, the recent news of other waivers indicates that we’ll get word on Micah Mason eligibility soon.
To me, Mason’s case is why the hardship waiver exists. Due to his limited diet caused by medical ailments, the Mason family was forced to go to great lengths with their son at Des Moines’ Drake University. His mother moved almost halfway across the country to prepare his specialized meals. After his freshman year, Mason elected to move closer to home and found his way to Duquesne. His circumstances are unique, but I think his case for hardship is as obvious as most. Life gets a lot easier for he and his family 15 miles away compared to 800.
For now, I’m approaching the season as if Mason won’t be eligible. Good news: the Dukes should still have plenty of depth if the waiver gets denied. Desmond Ridenour would serve as a back up at point and shooting guard. Jeremiah Jones could also slide over to the two if Jim Ferry elects to go bigger or play both the Joneses at once. LG Gill could also see some time at small forward. If we don’t see Mason, we should see a lot more of the freshman.
If Mason is eligible, I see a real cluster at guard. Someone who would normally be playing isn’t going to get off the bench. With a year of NCAA experience under his belt and one of the best three point shots in the country, Mason would command playing time likely at the expense of Ridenour or Gill. Of course, this is a good problem to have and it could allow Ferry to redshirt one of the those two. Ridenour could use the time to put on some weight and improve his jump shot. Gill could get stronger and work on his ball handling. Mason would fill a three point scoring void on the current team and could the first guy off the bench if eligible next year. He would have an immediate positive impact for the program.
If his waiver is denied, I would feel like Mason was hard done, but I wouldn’t be disappointed. I think Mason would be more valuable to the Dukes in 2016 than in 2013. While it would be nice to have him available immediately, I think he could play a bigger role as a 5th year senior than as a true sophomore. I like instant gratification as much as the next guy but the idea of Gill and Mason playing big minutes together as seniors could drive opposing coaches nuts. I can wait for that. The Dukes are in a win/win situation with Mason. Having him now would be a luxury. Having him later would be a huge boost for the program in the longer term.