When You Can Hit That Three – And Calculate the Trajectory in Your Head
Bradley basketball star power forward Rienk Mast is definitely not your typical Division I baller. He led the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) in rebounds last season with 8.4 rebounds per game, adding an average of 11.6 points, hitting more than half of his field goals in the second half of the season.
When not shooting from the perimeter or grabbing defensive boards, the junior is also a rare Division I star to focus on STEM as a physics major and chemistry minor.
“How do I balance it?” he questioned. “I ask myself that every day.”
Mast handles the dual roles very well, frequently appearing on the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll. He also earned a spot on the Busey Bank Scholar-Athlete of the Week list while scoring 23 points against Evansville in January 2022. The MVC named Mast to its MVC Scholar-Athlete first team for the 2022-23 season.
Growing up in Groningen, Netherlands, Mast was a star on the court and in the classroom. STEM topics always fascinated him; ironically, pondering these themes helped his on-court performance.
“It really helps me with just keeping my brain ... challenged,” he said. “I love challenges and it's a tough thing to combine, but it's a challenge.” He places as much importance on sinking a jumper as on acing an exam.
“I don't want to get lower than a B, that's against my pride.”
Now in his third year of eligibility, Mast has noticed one thing about himself that’s changed — how he’s grown into a team leader. He confessed to being pretty shy in high school. But with so much attention paid to him by opponents, teammates and the media, he learned how to step up and use his voice a little more.
His growing stature on the court is reflected not just in Peoria and the MVC, but back home in the Netherlands, too. Mast was a standout player in the Under-18 level when his 15 points and 11 rebounds helped his national team win the European Division B Championship in 2018. He’s since started to make his name on the senior side. He and his teammate (and fellow Netherlands native) senior Malevy Leons spent several weeks at the end of summer practicing and playing with the Dutch national team.
Mast is excited about the current season, despite losing players who have graduated. “I like the core group that’s returning, and I'm positive so far over the newcomers,” he said, noting that most of Bradley’s MVC opponents faced far more player turnovers.
His goal is to play pro ball after he graduates. Armed with a physics degree and his sharp mind, he’ll seek his fortunes on the court either in Europe or in North America.
One surprising fact, which Mast shared with Dutch media during his short trip home, is that he has never seen an NBA game in-person. What if that first game happened with him on the court?
“That would be a dream,” he replied. “That might be a goal too. A dream and a goal.”
Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Title IX
Title IX, enacted 50 years ago on June 23, 1972, forever changed the opportunities for women's athletics. Bradley Athletics will spend the entire 2022-23 season celebrating Title IX, including what it meant and continues to mean for Bradley. The university will unveil new, dedicated content each month on the 23rd to celebrate this monumental moment for female athletes.
Visit https://bradleybraves.com/sports/2022/8/24/forward-together.aspx to learn more.