Niagara’s Chris Casey on Antoine Mason’s Transfer

The last time Niagara head coach Chris Casey saw Antoine Mason was when he received his bachelor’s degree in finance from the University on May 10. At that time, Casey was under the impression that Mason would return for his final season of eligibility and did not have any other reason to think otherwise.

Niagara head coach Chris Casey learned on Monday that redshirt junior Antoine Mason was looking to transfer. (photo courtesy: Stockton photo)

Casey had seen the redshirt junior transform into a scoring presence over the course of his first season as Purple Eagles head coach. Mason finished second to Creighton senior Greg McDermott with 25.6 points per game.

Nine days after he walked across the stage to pick up his diploma, on the first day of Niagara’s summer sessions, Casey received a phone call from Mason’s father. The former NBA star, Anthony Mason, told Casey that Antoine had decided to pursue other options for his final year of eligibility.

“I had no reaction, I really didn’t,” Casey said when he heard the news at first. “Anything can happen at any time.”

“He’s done a lot for Niagara basketball. He’s a good person. He’s at a point in his career where he wants to seek out some other options and I wish him well with it.”

Mason finished his four years with the Purple Eagles as the third all-time in career points after a record shattering season. He earned second team All-MAAC this past season after leading the league in scoring and made the first team All-MAAC as a sophomore.

Under NCAA rules, since Mason has graduated from Niagara, he will have one remaining season to play as a graduate student.  The possibility of Mason remained present after the 2013-14 season concluded, but Casey and his staff had not known of Mason’s wish to transfer until Monday.

“It’s always a possibility, there’s over 500 guys on the transfer list and it’s that way for a reason, so anything can happen at any time,” Casey said. “I mean, we proceeded as if he was coming back and that was all indications, but apparently he had a change of heart. I wish him well in his future endeavors. I know he’s going to be great where ever he goes.”

Casey was an assistant coach at St. John’s under head coach Norm Roberts when Antoine’s brother, Anthony Mason Jr. played for the Red Storm. Antoine’s decision does not appear to be a rebuke of Casey’s strong ties with the family, but searching for a challenge for his final season.

“I don’t know exactly what it is he’s going to look for in terms of the options that his dad mentioned,” Casey said. “I would imagine he may want to challenge himself and try to play at a higher level, that seems to be the pattern of guys that have that one year left when they get to graduate school.”

“My guess is that’s what it will be, so I don’t think it has anything to do with the relationship, I think he may just want to challenge himself and try to go higher.”

As to the restrictions on Mason’s release, Casey said it was up to interim athletic director Steve Butler to decide, but he is away at conference hockey meetings for the remainder of the week.

Niagara currently has three scholarships open that they are looking to fill. They have had recruits visit campus recently and are awaiting decisions which may dwindle down that scholarship count.

For a roster that has turned over as constantly as it has in exactly 13 months to the day Casey was hired as coach, he said that decisions like Mason’s have not changed his perspective.

It’s part of the process,” Casey said. “We came in and there were five guys on the roster and that’s the situation, that’s the job and we’ll just keep building the roster. I like the guys we have on the roster right now a lot and we’re going to continue to try to build it with more new guys.”

“That’s the process of a team, particularly when you have that many open scholarships at the start, so it really doesn’t change your perspective. What you do is you put your head down, you keep going and get to a point where you have the roster exactly where you want it.”

Ryan Restivo covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo [at]

3 thoughts on “Niagara’s Chris Casey on Antoine Mason’s Transfer

  1. Good for Antoine, good for Niagara.

    He represented NU well on and off the court.

    Wish him well and time to move on.


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