Guard Mason Faulkner Talks Transition to Louisville

The Kentucky native, former Mr. Basketball finalist and Western Carolina standout returned home to play for the Cardinals.
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Though he joined the program later than his fellow newcomers, former Western Carolina/Colorado guard and Louisville men's basketball signee Mason Faulkner finally made it to campus last month.

He took some time to meet with the media, and discussed his transition to Louisville, his overall game, the new-look offense and backcourt, and more.

Below is the transcript from the press conference:

(On the status of his ankle, and if he is a full go in practice)

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.

(On how familiar he was with the program, given he is from the state of Kentucky)

I'm very familiar with the program. My family, they’re big Cardinal fans. Actually, my cousin Tick Rogers played here. In that area, we follow Louisville. We’re very familiar with the program, and it definitely means a lot to my family to be close to home, and just be able to play in front of Louisville fans.

(On the process of transferring to Colorado, but then later transferring to Louisville)

I was in the portal right after the season, and I made a decision early to go to the Colorado Buffaloes. I arrived there in the beginning in May, had surgery June 24th. It was a hard time for me. I have a newborn child of seven months, and just realized what really was important to me after the surgery, being basketball was taken away from me. 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. Just spent time with her, and things just kind of worked out with Louisville having another scholarship, and it kind of just worked out.

(On what it was like to be away, but then have the opportunity to be closer)

It’s been crazy, because my daughter was born February of last year during the season. Last year itself was a crazy season, just because COVID and the stops, and I was hurt all year - I was hurt before season. It was kind of crazy still being seven or six hours away from home in North Carolina, and then choosing the go in transfer portal, come back to college, and go 18 hours away. The last few months have been crazy, but God is the head of my life, so I just tried to follow his footsteps, and he landed me here. It all worked out.

(On how the Louisville staff discussed his role during the recruiting process)

The role is just play my game. Learning the system, learning how to play with these guys here, and just being a great teammate first of all. And basically, being selfish in the point of just taking care of my body, trying to get my injuries to 100%. The discussion went well. With the guard play here, we have a lot of competition at those spots, and that's all I asked for: just to be able to compete for something that I could take. I feel like that's all going to work itself out.

(On what he can bring to the team)

I bring that intensity, the believe in myself that affects my teammates. I basically feel like I've been one of the best guards in the nation for a few years, and kind of going under the radar as far as just being a mid-major player in the Southern Conference. Just bringing that fight, that confidence. I play through ball screen reads, Coach McMains has a great offensive scheme, I’m learning that daily more and more. Playing through ball screens, being kind of a little gnat on defense, I'm improving in that aspect as far as leading the team, and basically just being a great teammate. I feel like that goes far in coming to a new team and a new system and coaching staff. Just bringing intensity and confidence in myself.

(On what he was able to do when he arrived, and what he thinks of his newcomer teammates)

When I actually got here I was, I was able to do workouts. I've been doing workouts for about a month. 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.

As far as my new teammates, everyone's new. Everyone's going through the same adversity, and just building that team camaraderie. They welcomed me with open arms. I came late, but these guys, it’s their first year too. Everybody’s just ready to compete, and ready to get out there.

(On what he thinks of the new-look backcourt, and what they can bring to the table)

I think it's going well. Like I said, we're learning the system, we're learning what coach McMains wants in the offensive scheme. Coach Mack is very defensive-minded coach, so we have the defensive mindset already. We’re just learning the new system. I think it’s going well. We have a lot of underrated players, myself and Jarrod (West) were mid-major players. Being in a mid-major, you just have a different mindset about you, so I feel like that's going to transition to the game as well. Being at Louisville, it’s championship or bust. That’s definitely what we're aiming for. 

(Photo of Mason Faulkner: Glenn Beil - USA TODAY Sports)

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