After losing head coach Shaheen Holloway to Seton Hall, Saint Peter's knew that all eyes would be on them as they searched for the 16th head coach in program history.
To fill the position, they looked to a Jersey City native to return home and continue the run that the men's basketball team has been on.
Saint Peter's announced on Tuesday that Bashir Mason was named the new men's head basketball coach. After ten solid years at Wagner College of the Northeast Conference, Mason returns home to take over a Peacocks team that became the first 15 seed to advance to the Elite Eight. Mason knows what this job entails after a magical run during March Madness.
"We've been able to have success, a lot of success, I was just ready for the challenge. And Saint Peter's was a great challenge that was out there, a team that made it to the Elite Eight, returned a good core of their roster," Mason told NJ Advance Media. "Everybody's saying that was the run of a lifetime, we'll never see it again. I'd like to be a part of getting that team back to the tournament and making another run."
"We are so fortunate and excited to welcome Bashir Mason to Saint Peter's University and back to his home of Jersey City," said Saint Peter's Director of Athletics Rachelle Paul. "Not only has he established a winning pedigree after his decade at Wagner, but he has cultivated an undeniably strong culture that brings out the best of the young men that he has worked with over the years both on the court and off. Most importantly, his teams play with a sense of grit, heart and persistence that Peacock Nation has come to expect, making Bashir a perfect match to lead our program going forward."
A three-time NEC Coach of the Year, Mason led Wagner to three NEC regular-season championships and a 165-130 record at the Staten Island school. This past season, Mason led Wagner to the NEC Tournament championship game after a 21-6 record. The biggest win of his career was the defeat of top-seed St. Bonaventure in the first round of the 2016 NIT.
"We are excited to welcome Bashir Mason to the Peacock family," said Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., president of Saint Peter's University. "He is the perfect choice to lead our men's basketball team with a proven track record in Division I athletics. We are thrilled to have his leadership and expertise to guide our student-athletes as we build upon the success of our program. I am confident that he will take us to new heights."
Mason coached 21 All-NEC selections and 17 Academic All-NEC selections at Wagner. During his collegiate playing career, Mason was named Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year and was named to the conference's All-Defensive team.
Who Will Play For Bashir Mason At Saint Peter's?
While the hiring of Mason is a great move for Saint Peter's, he comes in during a time of change in Run Baby Run Arena. Five players entered the transfer portal, including national star Doug Edert and Daryl Banks III, who scored 27 points in the Peacocks' upset win over Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament. Other players looking to transfer include Matthew Lee along with Hassan and Fousseyni Drame.
Even with the roster's uncertainty, Mason seems optimistic about those players.
"I went over today and I had a team meeting with the guys," Mason said. "A couple guys who are in the Portal, they did show up to the meeting, so I think we have a chance to keep some guys."
While Bashir Mason was not at the top of many lists, the pick was the right one for a program on the rise. While an Elite Eight run is unlikely next season, you have the coach that moves right into the job and can keep everything moving forward.