Dedication to game takes Thomas to new heights
When sophomore Paul Thomas was 4, he was 4-foot-5. He towered over the other 4-year-olds who averaged just 3-foot-1. Ten years later, little has changed. Thomas is still growing; and at 6-foot-8, he is the tallest player on the basketball team and the tallest player coach Ricky Mourning has ever coached.
“I encouraged him to play because he was taller than most of the kids,” said his father, Paul Thomas, Sr., a police officer. “He was so tall, so you have to use the height God gives you. Kareem Abdul Jabar, Hakeem Olajuwon and Wilt Chamberlain are all great tall NBA players. I saw it being a part of Paul’s future.”
Thomas’ dad started coaching him at the YMCA. It took awhile before Thomas really knew what to do with his height.
“I didn’t really start putting in work until fifth grade, and I didn’t even start getting really good until eighth grade,” Thomas said. “I have to work on my ball handling, 3-point shot and my strength. I just keep working every day and I never am satisfied.”
Mourning said he appreciates Thomas in the classroom and on the court.
“He has helped us, his height definitely helps,” Mourning said. “Before he got to Summer Creek he already knew the game. His IQ of basketball was great. He is slowly becoming more of a leader. People expect a lot out of him, and on the court he’ll be a dominate force in the next two years. He’s only getting better.”
The varsity season has gone well, and Thomas has been a major part of helping the team. They are currently third in districts with a record of two loses.
“I love basketball,” said Thomas. “You don’t understand, I was meant to play. I’m not a short guy with some little man’s complex. Basketball was meant for me.”
Working hard everyday, Thomas is looking to go to a D-1 college and is already ranked number 35 in the nation among current sophomores, according to Future150.com.
“My first dunk in an AAU game was my most memorable moment,” said Thomas. “It was the second quarter, I got the steal. I was 6-foot-4 at the time and it was the summer before ninth grade. I dribbled down the court and dunked with one hand. The crowd went wild, and it was on a national scale. I felt like that was the moment I knew I had become a good basketball player.”