NCAA rules Mason eligible for Duquesne basketball
The NCAA approved a hardship waiver for Duquesne sophomore Micah Mason on Thursday, making the Highlands graduate eligible to play basketball this season for the Dukes.
A health condition that requires a gluten-restricted diet led Mason to transfer closer to home after one season at Drake. Without the waiver, Mason would have sat out this season.
“I was very excited to hear that I was eligible,” said Mason, who expects more than two dozen relatives and friends in the Palumbo Center crowd for Saturday afternoon's season opener against Abilene Christian. “I'm very thankful for this opportunity.”
The 6-foot-2 guard played in 30 games as a freshman, averaging 5.4 points and 2.2 assists in 15.6 minutes per game. He started 11 times and led the Missouri Valley Conference in 3-point shooting percentage (50.6 percent).
In high school, Mason was the WPIAL's all-time leader in 3-pointers made (346). His 2,272 career points rank 12th in WPIAL history.
“It makes our team better, it makes us deeper,” Duquesne coach Jim Ferry said. “I think the kid is one of the best 3-point shooters in the country, so we're excited about that. But in the overall picture, it's truly exciting for the kid.”
Mason, who has practiced with the team, waited months for this decision.
“It was on my mind for the last three months,” Mason said. “I'm happy to just focus on basketball and the start of the season.”
Mason has a sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in some grains. Consuming foods that contain gluten can cause Mason to suffers heart palpitations and fatigue, he said. As a result, his mother moved to Des Moines, Iowa, last year to prepare his meals.
“(Drake) promised me that they could cook all the meals for me, but that didn't work out,” said Mason, whose symptoms started in high school. “That's one of the main reasons I'm back here at Duquesne.”
After seeing other hardship waivers approved this year by the NCAA, Ferry believed Mason's request was clear-cut.
“I thought the NCAA saw it right,” Ferry said. “When you talk about student-athlete welfare and hardships on families, I thought that's exactly what this was.”