Antoine Mason, who will be nation's top returning scorer next season, will be taking his talents to a new program after announcing he would transfer from Niagara prior to senior campaign. (Photo courtesy of the Buffalo News)
Five days after it looked like Niagara's offensive leader would be back for one more season on Monteagle Ridge, an apparent change of heart occurred.
Antoine Mason, whose 25.2 points per game trailed only Doug McDermott for most in the nation, announced his decision to transfer from Niagara earlier this afternoon, just two months removed from completing his junior campaign for the Purple Eagles.
A fifth-year senior next season, Mason earned his degree this month, and thus will be eligible to play immediately at his new destination as a graduate transfer. However, he will not be able to resurface at a fellow Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference program, or any program that is on Niagara's schedule in the 2014-15 season, eliminating potential suitors such as reigning MAAC champion Manhattan and St. John's; where Mason's brother Anthony Jr. played from 2005-2010, with current Purple Eagles coach Chris Casey serving as an assistant to then-Red Storm head man Norm Roberts at that time.
"I know Antoine enjoyed playing here, and I'm sure this was a difficult decision for him and his family," Casey said in a release. "Now it is time for us to move forward with the players who are committed to continuing the tremendous legacy of the Niagara University Purple Eagles."
Mason becomes the second Niagara guard to transfer in the wake of a 7-26 season in year one of life after Joe Mihalich, the longtime former Purple Eagles head coach who took over at Hofstra last year. Sophomore Tahjere McCall already announced his intent to leave western New York shortly after Niagara's season ended with a loss to Quinnipiac in the quarterfinals of the MAAC tournament in March.