The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Department of Athletics will honor former Golden Lion basketball greats Harold Blevins and Jesse Mason by retiring their jerseys on Saturday, March 5.
The evening prior to the official retiring ceremony, a gala banquet, “Ultimate Honor – A Jersey Retirement Celebration” – will be held at the Pine Bluff Country Club here in the city. This March 4 event will start at 7 p.m. with the proceeds benefiting the UAPB Athletics Scholarship Fund. Fans can purchase reserved seat tickets (including an invitation to a VIP Reception) for the banquet at $75, general admission tickets at $50 and tables at $1,000.
For ticket information, please contact the UAPB Office of Development at (870) 575-8701.
About the Honorees:
In college basketball circles in the early 1960s, Harold Blevins was regarded as one of the premiere scorers on any level of competition.
A four-year starter for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff between 1961-65, Blevins averaged 25.5 points a game as a junior and nearly 30 points a game as a senior. His heroics on the court made him a three-time NAIA All-American and an All-Southwestern Athletic Conference honoree throughout his college career.
A native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Blevins, a shooting guard, helped make the Golden Lions’ backcourt one of college basketball’s most feared backcourts of the time. On the NCAA Division II level, UAPB led the nation in scoring with nearly 100 points a contest during the 1963-64 season. Blevins was the catalyst, scoring 47 points himself in one game that season.
Upon finishing his career, Blevins became UAPB’s first player drafted into the NBA when the New York Knicks selected him in the second round of the 1965 draft. Despite never playing football in college, he signed a free agent contract with the Dallas Cowboys that same year. He never got to play in either the NBA or the NFL, however, due to being drafted into the US Army in 1966 and serving a two-year stint in Vietnam.
Blevins returned to his alma mater following his military stint and after two junior college coaching tenures to coach the UAPB men’s basketball team from 1995 to 2001. In 2005, he was inducted into the SWAC Hall of Fame.
JESSE W. MASON, JR.
Jesse Mason is revered as one of the top five basketball players in the history of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (formerly Arkansas AM&N College), having honed his skills on the court between 1956-60. A phenomenal shooting guard, he earned All-Southwestern Athletic Conference honors in 1958, 1959 and 1960.
Mason’s top season came in 1959-60, when he led the Golden Lions and the SWAC in scoring, averaging 25.2 points a game. The six-foot guard amassed 656 points in 26 games that season, 20 years before the three-point field goal rule was adopted by the NCAA (1980). He surged past Prairie View A&M University star Zelmo Beaty to win the nation’s scoring title that year.
So dominating was Mason as a basketball player that he was an easy choice for SWAC Hall of Fame consideration. In December 2011, he was rightfully inducted into the SWAC Hall of Fame, four years after induction into the UAPB Sports Hall of Fame and one year after induction into the UAPB Alumni Hall of Fame.
Beyond the game of basketball, Mason has made a name for himself in higher education, in politics and in community service. He’s a former Vice Mayor of the City of Little Rock, AR and he currently devotes his public service time to serving as a Commissioner on the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport Commission. He serves as Director of Cooperative Education at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where he has been employed for more than 26 years.
Mason, a US Air Force veteran, and his wife, Dr. Gail Reede Jones, are known for their philanthropic support of educational causes.