It is no secret — Nick Masterson can shoot a basketball — but in his senior year, he will have to elevate his game even higher and lead a young Kennesaw State men’s basketball team if they are going to have any success this season.
“Anybody that watches knows I’m a 3-point shooter,” Masterson said. “I’m not the quickest guy on Earth, so it’s either learn how to shoot or stop playing. ‘Three points are worth more than 2,’ is the way I’ve always thought of it. So, why not get good at 3-points?”
Last year, Masterson was the second-best three-point shooter in all of college basketball. Masterson was 52.9 percent on 3-point field goals last season — only .6 percent behind Marquette University’s Markus Howard in the No. 1 spot.
Masterson had an impressive shooting percentage last year, but the way he looks at it, that was last year. Masterson looks forward to leading the Owls this season and is no stranger to playing on a less experienced side.
While attending River Ridge High School in Woodstock, Georgia, Masterson never found schoolwork to be difficult. He spent most of his time focusing on basketball, where he and his teammates faced tough opposition in regional competition.
A member of only the second graduating class at River Ridge, Masterson’s varsity team was made up exclusively of freshmen and sophomores.
With no upperclassmen leadership and experience, the young team went 3-22 his freshmen year. Determined to learn from the team’s losses, Masterson led the plucky team to victory in the regional championship as a senior and won player of the year.
While playing for River Ridge, Masterson competed against future KSU teammate Jordan Jones a few times.
“My first dunk ever was against his team,” Jones said, in reference to his time playing for St. Francis High School. “We weren’t exactly friends [at the time], but we’re good friends now. It’s amazing because he’s not the most athletic guy but he still finds ways to get shots up and seeing the percentages that he shoots is just truly amazing to see.”
As one of the older seniors on the team, Masterson will be taking on a hefty leadership role for the 2017 season. According to head coach Al Skinner, Masterson’s leadership ability is not just about the number of points he scores, he establishes the confidence in his teammates to work together as a cohesive unit.
“You can never discount experience,” Skinner said. “He’s figured out how the offense can work for him, and when you look at his numbers from his sophomore year, it’s just an indication of how hard he works. He’s clearly one of the reasons we had the success that we had last year.”
Masterson and Jones will be returning to the 2017-2018 ASUN Conference, alongside Owls teammates Kyle Clarke, James Scott and Tyler Hooker. Masterson was named to the ASUN Preseason All-Conference Team and is the Owls’ top-returning scorer.
“I like it because it’s a little bit of pressure pushing me,” Masterson said. “I definitely want to finish on the first team and if not, the second team. I’m definitely looking forward to conference play. It’s my favorite time of year.”
Masterson aspires to play professional basketball as much as any other college player does, and he recognizes that the opportunity to be a professional is not one that every player gets.
“Of course everybody wants to make it to the NBA,” Masterson said. “It’s really about opportunity. If I get a good opportunity to go play then I’ll go do that, and if I don’t then I’ll stay here and try to find a job… as boring as that sounds.
“I wish I had four more years to play here. Senior year is supposed to be my best year and everybody’s favorite year,” he added.
During Masterson’s time with the Owls, the team has set a school record for most wins in a season. The main goal right now, he said, is to end his final year by setting the record again.