LOUISVILLE, Ky. - When it was announced in mid-August that Mason Faulkner had joined the Louisville men's basketball program, many assumed it would be some time before he would see the court for the Cardinals. Not because of eligibility issues or being buried on the depth chart, but because of a nagging right ankle injury.
The graduate transfer guard was limited to just 22 games during the 2020-21 season with Western Carolina, and during his brief tenure with Colorado over the summer, had surgery on it on June 24.
Faulkner would later re-enter the transfer portal in early August, not knowing if he would be fully healthy at his next stop. Since then, the prognosis for his injury has become much more optimistic.
"My ankle is doing really well, I’m ahead of schedule, I’ve been practicing, and everything looks in line with what the doctors are talking about. I'm just gonna keep staying with that schedule, and keep progressing."
When the Glasgow, Ky. native made his way to Louisville, he started to make some progress. He was able to participate in individual workouts from the moment he set foot on campus, and was recently cleared to participate in full contact drills earlier this week.
"I've been doing workouts for about a month," Faulkner said. "I've been doing workouts, and I got cleared to do contact drills a few days ago. I've been practicing, and being involved with the team. It’s all working out."
While his injury did play a role in his decision to return to his home state, family was the ultimate motivator. A father to a seven-month old baby girl, time spent away from basketball helped him realize what was truly important to him.
"It just opened my eyes to a lot, and I actually made the decision to come back home not knowing if I was going to be able to play or not," he said. "Just spent time with her, and things just kind of worked out with Louisville having another scholarship, and it kind of just worked out."
Last season, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound point guard averaged a team-best 16.9 points, accompanied by 5.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists. He also shot 45.5% from the field, 35.5% on three point attempts, and 76.2% at the free throw line, and was still named Third Team All-SoCon.
During the 2019-20 season as a redshirt junior, when he was not dealing with his ankle injury, he put up 17.7 points, 6.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game. He posted not one, but two triple-doubles that season, and was named a First Team All-SoCon.
He spent the first two years of his career at North Kentucky, sitting out the 2018-19 season at Western Carolina due to transfer rules. In 65 total games with the Norse, he averaged 6.5 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists.
Prior to beginning his college career, Faulkner was one of the most prolific scorers in the state of Kentucky. He led the state in scoring as a senior at Caverna, averaging 35.9 points per game, while also chipping in 10.0 rebounds, 4.0 rebounds and 2.1 steals. He was named a finalist for Kentucky Mr. Basketball.
Louisville will preface the 2021-22 season with a pair of home exhibitions against Kentucky State and West Georgia, then tip off the regular season at the KFC Yum! Center against Southern on Tuesday, Nov. 9.
(Photo of Mason Faulkner: Frank Victores - USA TODAY Sports)
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