DURANT, Iowa – Durant basketball coach Matt Straube saw the potential in Mason Compton early on. The Wildcat coach told him last season that he saw the potential for Compton to become a member of the River Valley All-Conference teams, all he needed was consistency.
At the time it seemed like a bold statement. Compton had a nice sophomore season, as he averaged seven points per game and was Durant’s third-leading scorer, but there were obvious holes in his game. He shot just 5-for-31 from beyond the arc (16.1 percent) and 20-for-49 (40.8 percent) from the line.
Fast forward a year and Compton is beginning to find that consistency through a new shooting form Straube was hoping for, and that was on full display Friday night.
Compton scored a career-high 29 points to go along with seven steals in Durant's 76-73 double-overtime win over a 15-6 Northeast team. He was 4-for-10 from 3, nearly totaling his five made 3s as a sophomore, and made nine of his 11 free throw attempts.
Compton is averaging 10 points per game, which is second best on the team, along with 3.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists and a team-high 2.8 steals per game. Most importantly, he's shooting 31.6 percent from beyond the arc on 79 attempts and 71.1 percent from the free throw line.
"I would say confidence, definitely confidence," Compton said on the difference between his sophomore and junior seasons. "Last year I was hesitant to shoot. This year I'm definitely more willing to take the shot."
One of the most important parts of a good jump shot is how the ball sits on the shooter's hand. There's supposed to be space between the palm and the basketball, commonly referred to as the shooter's pocket. If there's no shooter's pocket, as was the case with Compton last season, that can affect the rotation of the ball and have a major impact on the overall shot.
But Compton said he and Straube spent the offseason remaking his shooting form and his once broken jumper seems to be fixed. The fact that he was willing to completely remake his shot at this stage of his career validates what Straube says about his junior: he's a tremendous worker who likes going after the challenge.
Straube said it's a daily process to keep Compton's new shooting form intact, and they often make small adjustments to keep him from falling back into bad habits. However, it's paid dividends, and that was on full display when the junior played his best game of his high school career to date last Friday.
Straube said the Wildcats (12-9) often play their best when Compton is playing well, especially on defense. The junior did just that Friday with seven steals, including a steal and a layup late in the game that Straube said "saved the game for us."
"He gets a lot of points off easy baskets by creating his own offense through run-out steals and breakaways," Straube said. "When his teammates start seeing some of that we ramp up the defensive energy and play looser.
"I think were at our best when we're running and getting out in transition, so when he can start that it really sparks our team."
Durant sets a goal each season to beat one of the "big four" teams from the North half of the RVC in Monticello, Cascade, Camanche and Northeast, and Straube said beating Northeast on Friday after already beating Monticello earlier in the season is a major confidence booster for his team.
The Wildcats and Compton seem to be peaking at the right time. Now Straube hopes both Compton and his team can keep that consistency for a few more weeks.
"I think Northeast is one of the best teams in Class 2A," Straube said. "Now it's just going to be about staying consistent and finishing the year strong."