When Riley Mastin was in a St. Patrick jersey as an eighth grader, he was a promising guard with a nice mid-range shot and a free throw stroke at one of the top percentages in the state.
A big growth spurt and a move down the Ohio River two years later, Mastin is looking to be a force in the post for Augusta this upcoming season and years to come.
The sophomore now stands at 6-foot-5 with a size 16 shoe.
“We’ve had trouble finding him a shoe to order,” Panthers coach Jason Hinson said.
While he’s had to transform his game to fit his body, he’s also had to fit in with his teammates, transferring to Augusta this school year after sitting out his freshman season at St. Patrick.
“They’ve welcomed me with open arms. Some of the best teammates I’ve had,” Mastin said. “Sitting out a year, I learned how much I enjoyed the game of basketball. Kind of wish I played last year, but learned to value things more. Makes me a lot more driven this season because of that.”
A driven Mastin should help a front line that will also feature 6-foot-4 Kylan Hinson to go with the physicality Evan Brooks and Will Kelsch will bring in the paint. Not normally known for their height, the Panthers will have some more size to utilize this season.
“Kylan 6-4, Riley 6-5, Not used to having that type of size down here. Will and Evan Brooks give us some more size as well. With our shooters on the perimeter, we could make for a dangerous basketball team,” Hinson said.
The post presence will be a different concept for the team that utilized Kason Hinson’s facilitating abilities at the point guard position last year. With the losses of Sam Appelman, Preston Philpot and Cameron White to graduation, combined production of 31.6 points and 16.5 rebounds, that will have to be picked up elsewhere with Conner Snapp and Chase Archibald also in the mix bringing back experience. Hinson’s role will remain the same, but how they can mix in another way to attack will be key.
“I love getting my teammates open, I always trust my teammates. If I see them open I’m going to try and get the ball to them. I know my teammates can knock down shots when I need them to,” Hinson said.
“Especially in the pick and pop with my brother and Riley. They can both shoot the ball really well. When they’re open on a shot, nine times out of 10 I feel like it’s going in.”
Mastin has proven he can knock down the open shot, shooting at a 46 percent clip from the field and knocking down 40 percent of his 3-point attempts as a Saint in 2018-19. He may have some learning and growing pains with his new position, but he feels he’s ready for the challenge.
“Still been working out, going to the gym with my friends. Trying to stay in the gym and be prepared for the season,” Mastin said.
“Everything is starting to fall in place now. I’ve grown quite a bit since I last played, so that will play a big factor this season. It’s a big change coming down here changing positions completely. I just have to be ready to overcome adversity. I have to be more physical. I’m not used to being physical when I was a guard. Now playing down low I have to be physical.”
Mastin will be relied on for the power forward and center positions when Augusta gets its season started in January. It’s a team without a senior on the roster as they build for the future, one that might be on a faster track due to the welcomed addition of Mastin.
“Riley is very fundamental, does a very good job, he’s hard working, been a pleasure to coach and think he needed a fresh start. Coaching and grooming him, he’s been a perfect fit for us,” Hinson said.