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Bedlam basketball: Mason Cox is enjoying a cool, but unexpected, college experience

The 6-foot-10, 230-pounder never played organized basketball before arriving at Oklahoma State. Now, the former soccer goalkeeper is the basketball team's big man in the middle.
by John Helsley Published: February 14, 2014

Mason Cox used to be Brittney Griner.

And then Joel Embiid. And Ryan Spangler. And virtually every big man the Cowboys were due to face the past two seasons.

Now?

Well, he's Mason Cox. And for him and his family, nothing could be cooler — or more unexpected — than that.

The walk-on engineering student, who's already accepted a job with Exxon Mobil in Houston, was thrown into Tuesday night's loss at Texas. And not just garbage time.

Real time.

With Oklahoma State's depth-depleted roster short on size, the 6-foot-10, 230-pound Cox at least represented resistance against a bigger Longhorns squad in a game that had gotten away in a season that threatens to get away.

Then the unlikely happened: Cox provided some feel-good moments in an otherwise forgettable game, hustling and rebounding and blocking a shot and grabbing a steal and even scoring during a fun-filled, six-minute stretch.

Before Tuesday night, he'd played six minutes in two seasons, bit parts of three games.

“My phone was blowing up from people texting me, from Twitter and everything,” Cox said. “I had a few guys from my soccer team back in the day texting me. I hadn't talked to them for about five years.

“That was kind of cool.”

Kind of cool?

With Cox now a potential new piece for the short-handed Cowboys going forward, including Saturday's Bedlam game, it's time for some catching up on his story.

A fantasy story.

Mason Cox had never played organized basketball before arriving at OSU. Played soccer in high school, where he sprouted six inches between his junior and senior year at Marcus High in Flower Mound, Texas.

“A 7-foot goalie,” said Cowboys senior Markel Brown.

Then one day …

“I just picked up a basketball one day here,” he said. “I was like, ‘Heck, I'm almost 7-feet tall, I might as well try it.'”

That was at the Colvin Center, a recreation facility on campus, where pretty soon he was noticed by someone affiliated with OSU's women's team.

“She asked me if I wanted to (practice) with them and imitate Brittney Griner,” Mason said of the former Baylor women's basketball star.

“I was Brittney Griner for a year and a half.”

Before long, the men's team noticed him. And facing a shortage of players two years ago, due to defections and injuries, men's coach Travis Ford instructed assistant Tommy Wade to check Mason out.

“Oh, I remember him out there shooting around with the women's team and saying, ‘Hey, go find out who he is,” Ford said.

Mason still has the message from Wade saved on his phone, where he was summoned to the basketball office.

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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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