When Mason Plumlee won his gold medal at the FIBA World Cup, he didn't note just how big a deal this is. So we will.
At age 24, he's now won an NCAA championship, with Duke in 2010, and a world championship. That's two of what could be called the Quadruple Crown of basketball success, the other two being an Olympic gold medal and an NBA ring. NO one has won all four. (His teammate Anthony Davis has all but the ring.)
Plumlee just keeps surprising people. Drafted at the end of the first round, many, including his GM, expected him to spend most of the reason in Springfield. Instead, he finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year balloting, made the All-Rookie Team and topped all first year players in PER, shooting percentage and, of course, dunks.
He wasn't supposed to make Team USA, but instead was the only player to move from the USA Select Team, the practice squad, to the big team. He was an important member of the team on defense and was a glue guy as well.
Billy King got a little criticism for taking a fellow Dukie in the Draft (the first Blue Devil he'd ever taken) and Mike Krzyzewski got a LOT of criticism for elevating him to Team USA, but none of it bothers Plumlee. He spent more than a few minutes at Media Day defending his coach and his selection, handling with typical aplomb. Of Adrian Wojnarowski's critique of Coach K and by extension him, Plumlee said, "I could care less."
Now, comes the next test. Lionel Hollins has said he expects more. "I want him to be a better scorer in the post," Hollins said. "I want him to be more of a physical presence. I want him to be a rebounder."
Plumlee, as ever, seems up for it, as he told Mitch Abramson of the Daily News Saturday after practice.
"There’s a big role to be filled," Plumlee told Abramson "With Kevin and Brook from night to night- you don’t know how many minutes they’re going to play. So I’m ready for 40 minutes. I’m ready for four minutes. Whatever they need I’m going to give the best while I’m out there."