|No. 66 – Restricted Free Agent|
|Species||Star Nosed Mole ( Talpidae )|
|Listed height||7 ft 0 in (2.13 m)|
|Listed weight||300 lb (136 kg)|
|School||Appalachian Mammal College|
|FBA draft||2013 / Round: 2 / Pick: 44th overall|
|Selected by the Newark Pride|
|Pro playing career||2013–present|
|(OOC) Usage||Ask me before any use|
Everything concerning Mason Yoder can best be described as "blue collar". Plain of speech and no-nonsense on the court, the mole's southwestern Pennsylvania upbringing is evident within moments of meeting him.
Born in the small town of Portage, Mason was raised with two sisters by his father, Edward, and mother, Martha, living in a community close by much of his family. "Big Ed" worked in the coal mines, as had all the men in the family. Mining was a family tradition reaching back as long as anyone could remember, a life well suited to the near-blind animals. Not a star student, generally happy if he could pass his tests, Mason's future down in the mines seemed certain, and wasn't something he was averse to. From the time he was young, Mason spent his summers working the mines with his father, uncles, and older cousins, and grew to enjoy the time spent beneath the surface, where his handicap wasn't one.
All the while, though, Mason found a fascination with basketball. The "grass is greener" phrase held as true as ever, as the nigh-sightless mole listened to games on the radio while working, enamored with the action, and imagined himself as one of them, able to fire a ball from the three point line with pinpoint accuracy and catch passes at a full sprint before slamming them home. In school, Mason tried to play in games with his classmates, but although his strong sense of position and bulky frame made him a force close to the net (particularly in rebounds and blocks, and often with his species' famed "visual organ" of a snout), his inability to see clearly held him back. Glasses were of some help, turning indistinguishable blobs into distinguishable ones, but not enough to benefit him at any distance.
Still, he kept playing, working hard to hone his other senses and instincts to overcome his lack of vision, and by middle school was enough of a player to join in youth leagues. Coaches and opponents marveled at the fact that this mole, who couldn't read an eye chart if it were stuck to the end of his snout, was able to play, but play well. So long as he kept near the basket. The local news covered a few games of his, and videos of "blind mole plays basketball" became moderate viral hits on the internet, and Mason's school games enjoyed larger than normal attendance as the town came in to cheer on the nearly sightless boy with the never-say-die attitude.
Disaster struck when, at 16, Mason's father, grandfather, and two uncles were killed in a mine collapse. At first, it seemed as though Mason's admittedly faint hopes of a life outside the mines were dashed, as the family found itself crippled by the loss of income. A silver lining to this very dark cloud appeared, though, when their union life insurance policies paid off, and Mason's mother (much to his surprise) allowed him to get laser eye surgery. She told him that it might not make him a professional athlete, but if it gave him a chance at a job above ground, where the family might be spared another loss, it would be money well spent.
The gift of sight was a godsend for Mason. It didn't give him 20/20 vision by a long-shot, and in fact he still wears glasses to be able to see clearly, but the ability to make out shapes changed the mole's life drastically, in particular on the court. No longer held back by the inability to make out shapes directly in front of him, while retaining the reflexes and instincts he'd spent so long to perfect, he quickly rose to a breakout star on his high school team. Followup videos of the formerly blind mole were met with similarly high view counts, turning Mason into something of a local celebrity. Outfitted with special goggle-style glasses made for sports, Mason's star was set to rise.
Not having eyesight until he was old enough to drive, Mason's long game is fairly weak, but being able to see the ball on its way in and recognize teammates versus opponents more readily turned him from a novelty into a bona fide terror on the court. With strength borne from generations of mine work and the ability to navigate close quarters instantaneously even with visibility is low, Mason's defense was unparalleled, his giant paws swatting balls down or swiping them from players in a way that seemed he knew where the ball was going before the offense did. His often painful-to-watch free throws inspired teams to intentionally foul him, finding that forcing him onto the line was one of the few ways to get possession back after a missed shot.
Thanks to his stellar court performance, college offers came rolling in, and Mason chose to remain close to home by enrolling in the Appalachian Mammal College. There, he managed to maintain a GPA high enough to remain a student (although barely), and got a starting spot on the team his freshman year, where he made waves for his impressively high block and rebound rate, setting several freshman records along the way. Now a junior, Mason's game is clearly pro-caliber, his coaches having him able to make three pointers at a moderately respectable rate, with fans at games frequently wearing pretend replicas of Mason's goggles and little paper "mole snouts" on the ends of their noses.
Off of the court, Mason is known for his low-key, even shy attitude. On the occasions he does attend parties, he'll usually play the part of the wallflower. Despite all this, he's always been well-liked, if not particularly "popular", thanks to his shirt-off-his-back generosity as well as his habit of relating "old mole wisdom" that had been passed down through his family, his manner of speech often seeming plucked out of the past. The quaintness of most of these phrases (""no hard worker ever had a hard time sleepin' at night"), combined with his often impossibly-quick reflexes on the court earned him the nickname "Yoda", one that he likes much more than "Squints" from his youth.
2013 - 2014 Regular Season Stats
2014 - 2015 Regular Season Stats
2015 - 2016 Regular Season Stats
2016 - 2017 Regular Season Stats