Mason Cox – From US College Basketball to the AFL

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There are many people in and around the sports world who believe great athletes can play most any sport. Michael Jordan, Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson are great examples of athletes who had a natural ability to conquer multiple sports. Now imagine for a moment what would happen if a walk-on basketball player from Oklahoma State University in the US would one day get the opportunity to play professional sports in Australia.


That’s exactly what happened to former OSU basketball player Mason Cox when he was given the opportunity to play not professional basketball, but professional Australian Rules Football. One might expect that would make for a difficult transition, but Cox is the same guy who played on a high school soccer team that won the Texas state championship. He had decided to forego playing sports in college so he could focus on his engineering studies at OSU. The only reason he ended up recording 57 minutes of playing time as a college basketball player was because a OSU basketball coach caught a glimpse of him scrimmaging with the OSU’s women’s team.


Surely, the question arises, “how did Cox end up playing in the Australian Rules Football League (AFL) after an abbreviated basketball career that included getting drafted with the 60th pick in the 2015 NBA draft?” Well, much of the credit goes to a special camp that was the brainchild of a basketball scout and consultant named Jonathan Givony.


At the request of former Sydney and now Melbourne FC head coach Paul Roos, Givony was asked to help recruit college basketball players who might have the requisite skills necessary to play in the AFL. Roos was motivated by the fact he saw the player pool in Australia drying up because more local athletes were becoming more interested in playing basketball. It occurred to him that there was an essential crossover of skills that transcended both sports.


In the five years since the start of his AFL skills camp, Givony has invited a number of college athletes to participate in a one week crash training course in early July. Coaches from 18 AFL teams come over to scout these athletes as they learn some of the basic skills and rules they would need in order to play Australian Rules Football at the highest level. Every year to date, 2-3 participants have been invited to attend the AFL’s combine prior to the league’s draft.


It was at Givony’s camp that Cox was first introduced to Australian Rules Football. At 6’11”, Cox had the requisite height that coaches seek in the AFL. However, it would ultimately be his soccer skills that would lead to the Mason Cox success story as he earned a tryout and eventually got himself signed to a professional contract to play with the Collingwood Football Club. It was an opportunity many experts believe will lead to a great career.


As a raw talent who needed an opportunity to learn how to play the game, Cox was assigned to Collingwood’s minor league team in the Victorian Football League (VFL). There, he spent the entire 2015 season, impressing Head Coach Nathan Buckley at every turn. After only 2 games into the 2016 VFL season, the Mason Cox success story took another big step forward. He was called up to play his first game with the Magpies on April 25, 2016.


In what seemed like a scene from a movie script, it only took 80 seconds for Cox to score the Magpies’ first goal of the game and the first goal of his career. Much credit goes to the crowd of 85,000 fans who cheered and immediately understood the magnitude of Cox’s accomplishment. It was because of Jonathan Givony and Mason Cox that a whole new source of future AFL greats was given life in the US.


Tony Samboras is a freelance sports writer and analyst. His work also includes writing many more sports including: soccer, football, Rugby and MMA. Another look at and some more information about Tony's work can be found at many leading gambling websites.


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