(FREDERICTON, NB) Javon Masters will tell you, there’s nothing free about a free throw. “Fouls can be hard to take, sometimes.”
Masters would know. He’s now Atlantic University Sport’s career leader in free throws made.
Last Friday, in a 102-97 overtime win against the Saint Mary’s Huskies, the third year Varsity Reds’ guard sunk four free throws, including his 412th. That broke the previous mark of 411, established by Acadia’s Owen Klassen between 2009-10 and 2013-14.
“It’s big,” says Masters of the record. But, he’s quick to add that making free throws is a team effort. “I’ve got to thank the coaching staff and my teammates for putting me in positions to succeed.”
Masters admits his game attracts attention and that, usually, means being fouled. “Our coaching staff and my guys here really want me to put an emphasis on attacking the defence and getting to the net, that’s not for me scoring by myself, but putting them in position to knock down threes.”
Varsity Reds head coach Brent Baker says Masters has had a profound effect on the Varsity Reds fortunes of late. Baker says Masters can shoot, but isn’t willing to settle for lower-percentage opportunities. “He forces the issue. If you’re getting to the free throw line, you’re putting so much stress on the defence that it makes you better.”
On Saturday, in an 86-80 loss to the Huskies, Masters was 8-for-8 from the foul line, pushing the new AUS mark to 422. By the time Masters finishes his career, that number should be well over 500. “I’m just really trying to put pressure on the defence,” he says. Masters says when he pressures the defence, opportunities open for his teammates. “If they(the defence) don’t help, I finish, but if they do, I can kick it out to them for threes.”
“We want the ball in his hands,” says Baker, glad he doesn’t have to game plan to defend against Masters. “In the open court there’s only maybe three guys in the country that are that fast, and so if you’re going to slow him down or get in front of him or do what you’re going to do, contact, fouls, all those things are going to occur.”
As deft as he is from the foul line, Masters knows how to distribute. After thanking his coaches and teammates, Masters distributed more thanks. “I’ve got to thank my parents too and I want to thank the university as well, for giving me a chance to be who I am, at school. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t be the person or player that I am today.”