Former Highlands star guard Micah Mason will transfer to Duquesne after this season.
Mason, who was the 2011 Post-Gazette player of the year and is 12th on the WPIAL's all-time scoring list, spent this past season at Drake University in Des Moines Iowa and had a solid freshman season for the Bulldogs as he averaged 15.6 minutes, 5.4 points and 2.4 assists per game.
He was the nation's fourth most accurate 3-point shooter as he made 40-of-79 3-point attempts (50.6 percent) and that's obviously his specialty as he also holds the WPIAL record for 3-pointers made (346).
But he suffers from a condition known as POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) and he requires a gluten-free diet and as a result he needed help maintaining his diet as well as preparing special foods so his mother, Karen, moved to Des Moines with him last fall.
"With the health issues I have, the gluten-free diet I need, it just would be much easier for me to be closer to home where I have more family and friends around to help me with it," Mason said. "So I wanted to transfer back closer to home and obviously the location of Duquesne was a huge factor in my decision. But I also really like Jim Ferry, he seems like an awesome coach and he had a lot of success in his career before he got to Duquesne so I know he is going to build something special and I'm happy I'll be a part of it.
"I also like the way Duquesne plays, they like to go up and down on offense and I'm definitely fine with that, seeing as that's how I played in the WPIAL, I like it, I like the transition game. But scoring points is not my focus, my focus will be on winning and getting better defensively. The system, though, is perfect for me and I'll enjoy playing in it."
Even though Drake suffered through a losing season -- the Bulldogs were 15-17 and finished 7-11 in the Missouri Valley Conference -- and the school fired head coach Mark Phelps, Mason said he isn't leaving Drake because he is unhappy or didn't have a good experience.
In fact, the opposite is true -- he enjoyed his freshman season, he enjoyed living in Des Moines and he learned a lot from his experiences. He just wishes Drake was closer to his home in Harrson.
"I really like it here," said Mason, who will finish the semester at Drake. "I really enjoy it, I had a good season, I really like my teammates and the school -- this was a very good experience for me. But I just know that I need to move back closer to home, I'll be better off there with my family and support system.
"I learned a lot from this season, though. It was a big step from high school to college, but being around Division I athletes every day at practice, I really got better every day, I'm so much better now than a year ago and I know what is expected of me and I just need to keep working on every part of my game."
Mason, who is 6-foot-2, had the benefit of being a somewhat anonymous freshman at Drake but at Duquesne, which is basically in his hometown, he will have a lot more expected of him because fans in the region are familiar with his high school career.
That means there may be a little more pressure on Mason, who will have three years of eligibility left after he sits out next season, to perform than there has been but he is OK with it because it isn't that much different than when he was at Highlands and all eyes were on him.
"I don't see it as pressure," Mason said. "I know people are going to expect a lot from me and I kind of like that because I expect a lot out of myself as well."
Paul Zeise: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter: @paulzeise