Like many youngsters with big aspirations, Mason Plumlee grew up dreaming of playing in the National Basketball Association. “Really since childhood that’s always been my dream…it’s just something I’ve loved from a young age.” Plumbee is now realizing that dream, playing for the Brooklyn Nets in his first season in the NBA.
More than perhaps any other player in the NBA, Mason Plumbee was born to play basketball. “Both my parents played. It’s kind of always been a family game.” His father, Perky, played college basketball at Tennessee Tech, and his mother, Leslie, played college ball at Purdue. Mason also has a grandfather, Albert Schultz, who played collegiate basketball at Michigan Tech and also played on the U.S. Air Force Service Team, and two uncles, William Schultz and Chad Schultz, who played at Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Wisconsin-Oshkosh, respectively.
With that type of pedigree, it isn’t surprising that the next
generation of Plumlees is playing basketball. Miles and Mason were on the 2010 Duke team that won a national championship, and Marshall, the youngest, is a sophomore for the Blue Devils now. On a recent evening in New York City, Mason had a game at Barclays Center for the Brooklyn Nets, while Marshall played at Madison Square Garden for Duke. “When they played Alabama, I finished my game, drove over, and caught the second half.”
Miles, the oldest, is in his second season in the NBA, currently
playing for the Phoenix Suns, averaging 8.8 points and 8.3 rebounds thus far, after being drafted with the 26th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Mason was taken a year later, with the 22nd pick in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Nets, where he has surprised many by breaking into the rotation despite the presence of NBA veterans like Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett, Reggie Evans (who was recently traded,) and Andray Blatche on the team.
I recently sat down with Plumlee and discussed the differences between playing in college and the NBA. “The number of games (is the biggest difference.) We’ve played a whole college season at this point. This would be tournament time.”
I asked the 23-year old rookie a trivia question about who was the
all-time leader in dunks for the Blue Devils at Duke University, and he had the correct answer. “That’s me! That’s the only record I got so I know it,” he exclaimed with laughter.
Plumlee was a pupil of arguably the greatest college coach in history, Mike Krzyzewski. He talked about the amount of work Coach K puts into his craft. “There’s a reason why, in the coaching realm, he has separated himself from everyone else in college basketball. He prepares for everyone the same.” Mason seems to have learned that trait, as he has worked hard defensively, specifically on rebounding and blocking shots in the minutes he earns on the court.
Though most NBA rookies are going to experience their up’s and down’s, thus far, Plumbee has been a big plus for the Nets. In less than 50 games, his boasts career highs of 2 points, 13 rebounds, three steals and four blocks. With more experience, we should see Mason’s game develop even more. One thing we know for sure, if he has questions about what to do on the basketball court, he has a long list of people to talk to in his family, specifically his father and mother, who have helped him live his dream of playing in the NBA.
For our video interviews with both Mason and Miles Plumlee, click on the links below.