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Why Petersburg is rooting for Frank Mason and Kansas in the NCAA tournament

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Kansas may sit in the heartland of America, but many in Petersburg will be rooting for the University of Kansas because of its star player -- Frank Mason III.

Mason grew up in Petersburg and was also a star on his high school team.

"His junior year, he was the leading scorer in the state of Virginia," his former coach and Petersburg High School Athletic Director Bill Lawson III said.

Frank caught the attention of many who watched him play and he is firmly set in the history of KU Basketball as one of its all-time greats.

At Allusion's Beauty and Barber Shop, Frank is still considered a regular because he visits every time he flies home.

"Soon as he gets off the plane," said his barber Bari Muhammad.

Muhammad has been cutting Mason's hair since his high school days and is quick to point out how he has matured into a great man.

"He's more humble now than I've seen before, it's amazing,” Muhammad.  “He's always thanking God and he's always trying to set a good example for his peers and most of all, his son.”

Frank Mason at Allusion's Barber Shop

After a standout basketball season at the University of Kansas, 2012 Petersburg High School graduate Frank Mason III is in the running to win the Naismith Men's College Player of the Year award.

An online fan vote will count toward five-percent of the Naismith award process.

"By voting online each day through March 31, central Virginia has the opportunity to support Frank Mason," a Petersburg Schools spokesperson said. "Every person can vote once a day. There is no fee and no registration required."

Click here to vote. You have to scroll down and click the circle under Mason's photo.

Earlier this year, Mason was named the Big 12 Player of Year. He led Kansas to a 28-3 record and the team’s 13th consecutive Big 12 regular-season championship. Mason and the Kansas Jayhawks take on Purdue Thursday night in the Sweet 16. The game will be broadcast at about 9:30 p.m. on CBS 6.

LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 13: Frank Mason III #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks pumps up the crowd during the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Allen Fieldhouse on February 13, 2017 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)