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Pitino and Nate Mason receive All-District basketball honors

Gophers basketball coach Richard Pitino and guard Nate Mason earned All-District honors Wednesday from the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

Pitino, who coached Minnesota to a 16-win improvement from last year, was named District 7 Coach of the Year. Mason, a junior captain and All-Big Ten first team performer, was selected to the All-District 7 second team.

In his fourth season, Pitino led the Gophers to a 24-10 record (11-7 in the Big Ten) and first trip to the NCAA tournament in four years. They earned a No. 5 seed before falling to No. 12 seed Middle Tennessee in Milwaukee. Pitino was named Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Mason led the Gophers in scoring (15.2 points), assists (5.0), steals (1.4), free throw percentage (80.8) and minutes played (34.5) this season. He was the first Gopher to be named NABC All-District since Trevor Mbakwe in 2013. The Georgia native is the first player in school history with 500 points and 100 assists in the same season.

District 7 First Team: Melo Trimble, Maryland; Caleb Swanigan, Purdue; Ethan Happ, Wisconsin; Peter Jok, Iowa; Miles Bridges, Michigan State

Second Team: Nate Mason, Minnesota; Derrick Walton, Jr.; Michigan Bryant McIntosh, Northwestern; Tai Webster, Nebraska; Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin 

Future Gophers guard Washington is New York's Mr. Basketball

What does Gophers four-star recruit Isaiah Washington have in common with Kenny Anderson, Stephon Marbury and Sebastian Telfair?

The St. Raymond High School senior joined three New York City point guard legends being named Mr. Basketball in New York on Monday, according to his high school coach Jorge Lopez.

Washington, who averaged 26 points and six assists for the Ravens, scored a season-high 54 points in a loss to Cardinal Hayes this season. But he's expected to be more of a facilitator for the Gophers next season.

The 6-foot-1 Bronx native is the 64th best player in the 2017 class by's composite ranking. Washington joins Patrick School (N.J.) senior guard Jamir Harris in Minnesota's freshman class next season.

“Isaiah Washington is as dynamic a point guard as you’ll find in the country," Pitino said earlier this year. "So I think with those two guys we really solidified a really good backcourt for many years to come."

Gophers sophomore guard Dupree McBrayer said Washington and Harris will add some outside shooting and playmaking ability to the team in 2017-18.

"We're excited to have them," McBrayer said. "When they get here, we'll be ready to work and show them the ropes."

Pitino has now signed a Mr. Basketball for the second straight season, which included the state of Minnesota's top senior Amir Coffey from Hopkins last year.

Washington is the second straight Big Ten recruit to win the New York Mr. Basketball award. Maryland freshman wing Kevin Huerter earned the top honor last season. 

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