SUPERIOR, WI- Freshman year is usually a time to develop for college athletes, but for UW-Superior guard Mason Ackley, he contributed right from the start.
Ackley has started every game for the Yellowjackets this season and is currently averaging 10 points per game.
He says the quick learning curve is due to teammates giving him more opportunities on the floor.
"When I have people like Vid, Mac, and Allen who are scoring the ball at such a high rate. It gives people like me who they might not look at as much, more opportunities. I feel like teams are catching on. I'm just going to keep playing. Whatever happens, happens," said Ackley.
According to head coach, Greg Polkowski it's Ackley's ability to play pretty much anywhere has elevated his play over the course of the year.
"He definitely has the versatility to play inside. Whether it's attacking the rim, posting up, defensively protecting the rim for us, play on the perimeter. Whether it's his ability to shoot the ball. He can really play one through five for us. The versatility to fill in where needed," said Polkowski.
What makes his freshman season extra special is he gets to continue to play in front of the hometown crowd.
"I love it here. Coach Greg Polkowski, he's a really big part of that. My best friend is here, Xavier Patterson. It was a really each choice, easier than people would think. Playing basketball, actually playing. I'm in my hometown. Love my teammates and my coach, it's been a great experience so far," added Ackley.
Even more of a bonus, Ackley, and company are in the hunt for the UMAC title.
"We went from being very young last year to getting some guys back from injury that are seniors for us. Some guys went through the program last year and developed and kept getting better. Having more depth has put us in that situation," said Polkowski.
But, the hype of being towards the top hasn't distracted the team from focusing on the little stuff.
"We just try to keep that all that stuff aside from us. We don't want to think like that. We're just trying to take it practice by practice. Our motto as a team is to get better every day. Whether we win or lose we just want to become better. We've turned a lot of heads and as you can see we're starting to make some noise. We're just trying to take it game by game," said Ackley.
UW-Superior will play at Minnesota Morris on February 1st.