PINE BLUFF, AR – The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) Department of Athletics honor former Golden Lions basketball greats Harold Blevins and Jesse Mason by retiring their jerseys yesterday (Saturday, March 5) during the MVSU vs. UAPB basketball game.
UAPB Office of Development hosted a gala banquet, “Ultimate Honor – a Jersey Retirement Celebration” which was held Friday night at the Pine Bluff Country Club, with the proceeds benefiting the UAPB Athletics Scholarship Fund.
Harold Blevins, a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was a four-year starter for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff between 1961-65, he averaged 25.5 points a game as a senior. His heroics on the court made him a three-time NAIA All-American and an All-Southwestern Athletics Conference honoree throughout his college career.
Upon finishing his career, Blevins became UAPB’s first player drafted in 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 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. 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 skills on the court between 1956-60. A phenomenal shooting guard, he earned all-Southwestern Athletic Conference honors in 1958, 1958 and 1960.
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 services. 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 Hilary 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.