A week after inspiring fear that he suffered a major, season-ending knee injury, Golden Gophers guard Nate Mason is back at full capacity already. Mason landed awkwardly on is left leg during last Monday’s practice, suffering a non-contact injury that had coach Richard Pitino and his staff immediately fearing he suffered a torn ACL.
Mason was only diagnosed with a bone bruise though, and he has returned to full strength under the originally prescribed one week timetable.
Mason made an immediate impact as a freshman last season, averaging 9.8 points, 2.8 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game while making just under 39 percent of his three pointers. That makes him Minnesota’s second-leading returning scorer this year, behind back court mate Carlos Morris (11.1 points per game in 2014-15) and just ahead of senior forward Joey King (9.7 points per game last season). With the departures of Andre Hollins and DeAndre Mathieu, Mason’s boost in playing time toward the end of last season (31 or more minutes in each of the final five games) is in line to extend right into the coming season.
Mason participated in a closed scrimmage last Friday, and he finished with eight points (3-for-4 from the floor; 1-for-1 from three-point range), one assist and two turnovers in 17 minutes of action.
The Golden Gopher’s men’s basketball team will play two exhibition games on Nov. 1 and Nov.6, and then they will open the regular season against Missouri-Kansas City on Nov. 13.