Bashir Mason, one of the most decorated young coaches in the country and a Jersey City native, has been named the 16th head coach of the Saint Peter’s University men’s basketball program, as announced by Director of Athletics Rachelle Paul on Tuesday.
After spending 10 years as head coach at nearby Wagner College, Mason returns home to take over a Saint Peter’s program that made shockwaves this March after becoming the first No. 15 seed in NCAA Tournament history to advance to the Elite Eight after winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Tournament for the first time in over a decade. He will be introduced to the Saint Peter’s University community at a press conference inside Run Baby Run Arena on Wednesday (April 13) at 11 a.m.
“We are excited to welcome Bashir Mason to the Peacock family,” said Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., president of Saint Peter’s University. “He is the perfect choice to lead our men’s basketball team with a proven track record in Division I athletics. We are thrilled to have his leadership and expertise to guide our student-athletes as we build upon the success of our program. I am confident that he will take us to new heights.”
“We are so fortunate and excited to welcome Bashir Mason to Saint Peter’s University and back to his home of Jersey City”, added Paul. “Not only has he established a winning pedigree after his decade at Wagner, but he has cultivated an undeniably strong culture that brings out the best of the young men that he has worked with over the years both on the court and off. Most importantly, his teams play with a sense of grit, heart and persistence that Peacock Nation has come to expect, making Bashir a perfect match to lead our program going forward.”
Mason will not be traveling far to take up his new post; he orchestrated an extremely successful decade at Wagner as the Seahawks’ head coach, leading the team to three Northeast Conference (NEC) regular season titles while posting a 165-130 record over that span in Staten Island. He became just the second coach in the conference’s 40-year history to win three Jim Phelan Coach of the Year honors during that time.
This past winter, Mason led the Seahawks to a 21-6 overall record and an appearance in the NEC title game, marking the third time during his tenure and ninth time in program history that Wagner won 20 or more games in one season. The 2021-22 Seahawks were the first team in NEC history to boast four All-NEC players, led by NEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-NEC selection Alex Morales, while Will Martinez and Raekwon Rogers earned Second Team honors and Elijah Ford picked up Third Team accolades. Zaire Williams also picked up a spot on the All-Rookie Team. Mason also took home hardware by season’s end, as he was named the National Basketball Coaches Association (NABC) District 15 Coach of the Year.
Wagner’s 15 conference wins in 2021-22 also matched the most in program history, while its 14 consecutive victories set the record for the longest winning streak for a Seahawk team under Mason and was the longest winning streak for a Wagner squad since winning 16 straight during the 1978-79 season under P.J. Carlesimo. Wagner’s 13-0 start in NEC play was two wins short of the conference record for longest unbeaten streak to start a season and represented the first time an NEC squad won 13 straight games in over a decade. Wagner’s win over Fairleigh Dickinson marked the 100th career victory in conference play for Mason, who became the 11th coach in NEC history to reach the century mark; he also earned his 150th overall victory against Fairfield this past season. Wagner also appeared in the NEC Tournament title game for the third time in his tenure as head coach (2017-18, 2015-16).
Mason has been named the Jim Phelan NEC Coach of the Year three times, most recently after the 2020-21 season, where he helped the Seahawks post a 13-5 record in NEC play while dealing with the logistical challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. He also took home that honor after the 2015-16 and 2017-18 campaigns, leading Wagner to the regular season NEC conference title and tournament title game in both seasons.
The Seahawks have appeared in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) in three seasons under Mason, including the memorable 2015-16 installment of the tournament when he led Wagner to a 79-75 victory over top-seeded St. Bonaventure in the opening round. It was the first non-conference tournament postseason victory for Wagner in program history.
Mason heads to Saint Peter’s with a laundry list of national accolades, being named a finalist for the Ben Jobe Award as the top minority Division I head coach four times (2020-21, 2017-18, 2015-16, 2012-13), a finalist for the Hugh Durham Mid-Major Coach of the Year award three times (2021-22, 2020-21, 2017-18) and was the NABC District 18 Coach of the Year in 2017-18.
The fastest coach to win 100 games in Seahawk history, Mason coached 21 All-NEC selections during his tenure, in addition to having eight student-athletes claim All-NEC Tournament accolades as well as six were named to the prestigious NABC (NABC) First and Second Team All-District. Most recently, Mason coached two-time NEC Player of the Year and 2022 NEC Defensive Player of the Year Alex Morales.
The 2020-21 season marked the first time Wagner has ever won NEC Coach of the Year, Player of the Year, and Rookie of the Year in the same season, and was also the first time since 2007-2008 that two Seahawks earned First Team All-NEC honors.
Upon his hire at Wagner, Mason was the youngest head coach at the Division I level when he was brought on staff in March of 2012. Prior to being named the head coach, Mason was a two-year assistant with the Seahawks under now University of Connecticut head coach Dan Hurley.
Academically, Mason coached a total of 17 Academic All-NEC selections and has helped every player who exhausted their eligibility at Wagner earn their degree.
Mason is no stranger to the MAAC, arriving at Wagner after spending two seasons as an assistant coach at Marist College for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons. He began his coaching career at his high school alma mater, St. Benedict’s Prep of Newark, under Hurley, during the 2007-2008 season. As coach of the school’s prep team, the Gray Bees won the New Jersey State Prep A Title.
After playing under Hurley in high school, Mason went on to enjoy an outstanding four-year career as a member of the Drexel University basketball team. A four-year starter, Mason was a stellar player for the Dragons with 1,000 points and nearly 500 assists in his career. He was also a dynamic defense player, being the first player in conference history to be named to the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) All-Defensive team and was also the first player in league history to be named Defensive Player of the year following the 2003-04 season.
Mason led Drexel in assists and steals in all four of his seasons and graduated second on the Dragons’ all-time steals list (226) and fourth on its all-time assists list (471). As a senior, Mason led the Dragons to wins over Saint Joseph’s, Villanova, Syracuse and Temple en route to a 23-9 record and a berth in the NIT.
In 2007, Mason graduated from Drexel with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Management. After earning a Master’s Degree of Science in Education from Wagner in December of 2013, he was honored by his alma mater with inclusion in the Drexel Magazine’s ’40 Under 40′ list.