Marlin Mason is a 24 year old 201cm forward from Detroit, Michigan going into his fourth professional season and first with Phoenix Hagen. Last season he played with SG Luetzel-Post Koblenz (Germany-Regionalliga) playing 27 games averaging 19.2ppg, 7.5rpg, 2.1apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 54.9%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 78.0%. Two seasons ago he played with the Kordall Steelers (Luxembourg-N2) playing 13 games averaging 22.3ppg, 7.5rpg, 2.5apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 62.2%, 3PT: 34.8%, FT: 76.8%. In his rookie season he played with Saint John Mill Rats (Canada-NBL Canada) playing 4 games averaging 2.3ppg, 2.3rpg, released in Jan.’16, in Feb’16 joined Lake Michigan Admirals (PBL). The American played at Cleveland St. (NCAA) from 2011-2015 playing a total of 112 games and as a senior played 31 games averaging 8.3ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 56.0%, 3PT: 37.0%, FT: 67.9%. He spoke to German Hooprs about basketball.
Marlin, thanks for talking to Germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how have you been spending your summer vacation which started on April 28?
Right now I’m back home in Detroit, Michigan and I’ve been spending my vacation working out and spending time with my family and friends who I don’t see often.
How happy are you that you signed early in the summer? Did you already have a feeling during last season that Phoenix Hagen could be a possibility since your ex coach in Luxemburg was the coach?
It’s always a great feeling signing early especially knowing there is a place for you come August. But I had no idea that Phoenix Hagen would be a possibility. I recently found out that my ex coach was the head coach there so that made it a bigger plus.
What were some of the main aspects that sold you on signing with Phoenix Hagen besides knowing the coach?
One of the main things that sold me on coming to the team was the arena which looks very nice and the fact that this is a great opportunity for me to play on a bigger and better stage than I was the previous years.
You are one of the few players that make the jump from the Regionalliga to the Pro A. How confident are you that you will be able to perform at a high level?
The level doesn’t matter to me. No matter what level you play you still have to play basketball and I’m always going to go out and compete against anybody who steps on the court with me.
You tore up the Luxemburg second division and German Regionalliga last season. Is your confidence so high that you can come into the Pro A and be more of just a solid player, but an impact player?
Anywhere I go I do whatever that team needs me to do whether it be scoring or rebounding or just being an energy guy. I don’t try to put myself in a one style box. I’ve shown I can do multiple things when asked.
Let´s talk about your game. At Cleveland St you never averaged more than 8,3ppg, but in Europe you averaged 19 and 22 points. Did you learn anything about your game that you didn´t necessarily know about when you played in the NCAA?
In college I did what my coach asked of me, which was mostly to be a stretch 4 and to use my athletic ability. I always knew what my ability was but after college I had more freedom to play and more responsibility. That’s really the only big difference.
If you had to describe your game to an NBA player which player would you have to pick and what are some other strengths in your game besides scoring and rebounding?
Well the comparison I got the most was to Jeff Green. A big forward that can go coast to coast and score from inside and out as well as guard multiple positions of need be. My biggest strength to my game is my athleticism and my size. Most people my size aren’t very quick and aren’t used to running or jumping with someone like me and gives me a huge advantage on both ends.
You’re a guy that can fill up the stat sheet, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t always get noticed right away on the court?
One thing that doesn’t get noticed really is my passing ability. I’ve always loved to pass even when I was a little kid. Sometimes I passed up open shots for my teammates because I love to get an assist and see them score.
Last season you played with Koblenz. They are always ambitious too move up, but couldn´t get past Schweningen and Speyer. What separated them from you that allowed them to have better records?
Those teams had better team chemistry than us. During the season we switched our lineup a lot and brought in a lot of different players. We did the best we could but 3rd place was as far as we could go.
Two seasons ago you played with Kordall Steelers (Luxembourg-N2) playing 13 games averaging 22.3ppg, 7.5rpg, 2.5apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 62.2%, 3PT: 34.8%, FT: 76.8%. How important was this season for your overall self confidence and game considering the tough rookie season you had in Canada and the PBL?
I give all the credit to Kordall for my confidence getting a boost. I gained a lot of experience and confidence in my handling ability and my shooting from that season. Because of that year I was able to be seen by a better club and it’s only been better from there.
You signed very late in 2017 in February in Luxemburg. How tough were those months leading up to the signing? Was there ever a time where you wanted to throw in the towel or was your shoulder too strong for your chip on your shoulder?
Those months were very hard for me and I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do next. I just kept training, waiting and hoping for a chance to play. I was ready to give up playing basketball after my rookie year but Kordall saved me and now I get an opportunity to play for a great team in Pro A Germany. What more could I ask for from where I started.
After a solid career at Cleveland St. (NCAA) you had a tough rookie season playing briefly with the Saint John Mill Rats (Canada-NBL Canada) and then played with Lake Michigan Admirals (PBL). What memories do you have of your rookie season and why did you have so much misfortune?
My rookie season was really me figuring out what type of player I wanted to be. In Canada I didn’t really know what to expect so I was nervous in games for the most part. Then I got injured and I just didn’t come back from it. In the PBL I thought it wasn’t going to give me a chance to play overseas and everyday was just tough mentally, trying to keep a positive mindset for the future.
You played some games in the Canadian NBL league. It has been a league on the rise for years. What do you remember from the level and is it a league that can continue to make strides up?
I played about 3 games in Canada and the one thing I remember is the physicality of the players. That was the biggest difference for me. I think the NBL can make great strides in a couple more years. More and more players are starting to become aware of it and wanting to showcase their abilities there.
You played at Cleveland St(NCAA) from 2011-2015 reaching three Horizon League Tournament Semifinals and was runner up twice. What memories do you have from your four years in school there?
The best memories were just playing with my teammates. Especially my classmates that I came in with. Playing college ball is a once in a lifetime experience and a great feeling that can’t be taken away.
In your junior year you played Kentucky tough losing 68-61. The club was stacked with many future NBA players like the Harrison brothers, James Young, Julius Randle and Willie Cauley-Stein. What memories do you have from that game and when you look back at the overall skill level, do you feel like there was so much between you and them?
That Kentucky game was amazing. The best memory I have is not from the gameplay but after when every fan in the arena gave us a standing ovation because of how hard we fought and that we almost had the game won. Their skill level wasn’t too much different than ours. The biggest difference is the athletic ability. Every position they had a freak athlete.
You played a season with Bryn Forbes who had solid stats with you, but not staggering stats. If someone had told then that he would be a solid NBA player four years later what would you have thought?
Bryn might not have had eye popping stats but his work ethic and dedication is on NBA level. He worked night in and night out perfecting his shot and gaining confidence and it got him to where he is today.
What memories do you have of Kaza Keane. You played a season with him, but he didn´t get playing time. He moved on Carleton(CIS) where he was the leader of the team and played with the Toronto Raptors G-league team last season. Do you think like his game could flourish at the European level?
Kaza was a great teammate he’s one of those guys that can get along with everybody. I think his game would be great in the European level. He’s a tough true point guard. He can make plays and has a nice floater inside the paint.
How did head coach Gary Waters groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
The best thing coach Waters did for me was install toughness and defense. That can separate you from a lot of players today. But he also taught me as well as my teammates how to be mature men in the real world outside of basketball. I will always be forever thankful for him as a coach.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Anton Grady?
Honestly me and Anton never played one on one. But if we played 2 on 2 I doubt there would be anyone who could stop us.
If you had to construct your very own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick old or new?
My own NBA Rushmore would be Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate about who is better Lebron or Jordan? As a player and stats Lebron owned him, but Jordan has 6 rings?
I can’t compare them because to me they have different styles of play. LeBron is a more athletic and better shooting Magic Johnson in my opinion. And I don’t really put rings into it because the rings are only because of the team. And if you included rings than Bill Russell is probably the greatest with 11.
Tracy Mcgrady said that the Boston Celtics will be the Golden State Warriors of the future. Do you see that happening?
Maybe not the Warriors of the future because I doubt we will see shooting like that from another team. But if Kyrie and Hayward stay healthy and they keep the same team than they will be a very dangerous team for plenty of years in the league.
Deandre Ayton was the #1 NBA draft pick in 2018. But having been in Europe this season you must of seen some highlights of Real Madrid´s 19 year old stand out Luca Doncic who belonged to the best players in the Euroleague. Should a guy like that be the automatic #1 pick just from sheer experience and talent?
I’ve seen the highlights from Luca Doncic and he’s an incredibly talented kid. Deandre Ayton is a 7’0 athlete that’s almost as fast as a guard and has a lot of potential. I think it could be a toss up for the #1 pick even with the experience from Doncic.
Lebron James makes amazing passes in every game, but really showcased it in a game this season against the Los Angeles Lakers. He already is like a point guard, but if he played just point guard and concentrated only on playmaking how many assists do you feel would he average per game?
If he really only concentrated on making passes I think he could average about 13-15 assist a game with his abilities.
What was the last movie that you saw? Let me guess Black Panther?
The last movie I saw was Deadpool 2 which was very funny and amazing.
Thanks Marlin for the chat.