Three teams in three years. For thousands of onlookers across the state, that’s all they need to see, and they’ve already made up their minds about Mason Landdeck.

His freshman year he won a state title with Kittitas. His sophomore year he transferred to Cashmere and made the state playoffs. Then prior to his junior year, Landdeck made the move to Zillah, where he now has a legitimate opportunity to capture another state title.

To understand the Mason Landdeck situation, you have to know and understand three things:

  1. He’s a basketball superstar, currently being sought after by an abundance of D1 programs.
  2. He doesn’t take any shame in playing for different schools in three years.
  3. He cares deeply about his family, above everything else.

Because of his history of moving, Landdeck has heard just about every crude, derisive chant imaginable from opposing student sections. He’s endured adults ripping him online, too.

For several years now, Landdeck has constantly dealt with detractors in person, online and in his personal messages. Having first experienced these comments at age 14, and continuing to hear them even now, at 16, it’s a lot for a young person to handle. No matter how you feel about him.

“I kind of wish people would get to see what I’m like just in my regular life,” Landdeck said. “If people got a chance to follow me around, I think they would see I’m just a normal guy.”

While he had become used to being criticized during his first couple years of high school, things would reach a boiling point this past summer, when he announced via social media his transfer from Cashmere to Zillah.

“That’s when things started coming in the most they’ve ever come in,” Landdeck said.

Whether it’d be on Facebook, Twitter, or his personal cellphone, a tsunami of rants would be directed at him, saying exactly how they felt about his decision to transfer to Zillah.

As badly as he wanted to reply to these people, he saw value in keeping a cool head. Even if it was upsetting, he felt there was still a level of respect in not responding.

While Landdeck doesn’t feel like he owes anybody an explanation for what he does with his life, he will say that every decision he makes is with the intention of helping his family have a better life. One of the ways he can do that is by earning a full-ride basketball scholarship.

If he ever felt the need to explain why he’s played for three schools in three years, it’s because it’s what’s best for his family.

While he has no regret playing for multiple schools, Landdeck admits there are things he wishes he would’ve done differently during his time at Kittitas and Cashmere.

They’re not the easiest pills to swallow. Negative on-court demeanor, being confrontational with referees, argumentative at times. But reflecting on the past few years, Landdeck said he better understands now the power of identifying weakness, and striving to improve every day.

During his short time at Zillah, Landdeck believes one of the biggest molders of who he’s becoming has been his head coach, Mario Mengarelli.

From the beginning of this school year, Landdeck has been Mengarelli’s TA (teacher assistant). During that time, Landdeck has essentially been hanging on every word, absorbing information like a sponge.

“I kind of recommended that he’d by my TA,” Mengarelli said. “It was mainly for me to get to know him. I’ve seen him as a player, but I didn’t know him as a kid.”

You would think it’s just a lot of basketball talk between the two, and there is plenty of that. But a good amount of their conversations are actually on off-the-court topics, according to Mengarelli.

Two other mentors in his life that have been vital to his transition are senior captains Sebastian Godina and Weston Ide. Both of them are lifelong products of the Zillah system, and have been very helpful in helping Landdeck learn the "Zillah Way."

“He’s definitely shown that he works on himself a lot,” Ide said. “He’s not really an outgoing person, but sometimes I’ll get him talking and laughing, and that’s when his personality really comes out.”

The Zillah basketball program takes pride in being a family, and Landdeck has done well integrating himself as part of the family over the course of the year.

Perhaps the final chapter in Landdeck’s high school basketball journey will be becoming a bona fide team leader.

As cliche as it sounds, being a team leader is more than just leading the team in points, or being on the cover of the program. It’s about working with the younger guys after practice, giving constructive criticism, and leading by example every possible moment.

If that opportunity presents itself down the line, Landdeck would relish the opportunity.

“It would really mean a lot to me to be named a captain next year,” Landdeck said. “Me and Clay can lead a young team with not as much varsity experience, and lead them the right way for the future.”

Landdeck has accomplished a lot in his high school career, but it’s safe to say there’s still a lot more that needs to be done. Even with all the MVP awards, state championship trophies, and 40-point games, It very well may be the immeasurable things that are his lasting legacy at Zillah.

He’ll have every chance to accomplish his goals going forward, and it starts this upcoming week with the 1A State Tournament. This Saturday Zillah squares off with Lynden Christian in a regional matchup, then they’ll play at least three days worth of games at the Yakima Valley SunDome, with the hope of clinching a state title next Saturday.

If you’re in town for the tournament, Landdeck is a player definitely worth seeing in person. There’s projected to be several thousand attendees at Zillah’s upcoming games, so Landdeck and his teammates are going to have a bright spotlight.

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