Zaccheus Mason is one of the biggest and strongest power forwards in the Southern Conference.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga junior began his college athletic career as the No. 1 tight end prospect in the nation and playing for Ole Miss.
He has the attention of Georgia Southern coach Charlton Young.
"I really like Z," Young said on the weekly Southern Conference teleconference.
Mason also is in the cross hairs of UTC coach John Shulman.
The loss of senior point guard Dontay Hampton less than four full games into his return has long-term ramifications on the Mocs. UTC played one style for the first half of the season without Hampton. Then, upon his return, the Mocs followed Hampton's lead.
Now Hampton's competitive season is over after what Shulman called "successful" knee surgery Thursday, and the Mocs (8-13, 3-5) are going in a different direction Saturday at Georgia Southern.
That direction is inside to Mason.
"I don't think Z came here thinking he would be the man," Shulman said. "I think he thought he would come here, get out of the sun and not get hit by 250-pound linebackers. He's become a really good player. We need more from Z, and he knows that."
Mason earned SoCon player of the week honors on Jan. 22. That was the first time a UTC player earned the distinction since Omar Wattad on Jan. 18, 2011.
Mason recorded three double-doubles in his last four games and averaged 19 points and 10.3 rebounds per game in that stretch. Shulman said he brought Mason in front of the team during a recent meeting.
"He said he wants more out of me," Mason said. "He said he wants me to bring more to the team for us to be successful."
In SoCon games before Thursday, Mason is fourth in scoring at 16 points per game and second in rebounding at 8.1.
"We're going to have to ride him," Shulman said. "But he's a talented guy."
And Mason, despite his passive personality, is ready to provide more.
"I feel like I have something left in the tank to give more to the team," Mason said. "I'll do the best I can to help this team. I feel like the guys need me to step up with Dontay going out. With him going down, I need to bring my game to the next level."
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...