Sammy Thomas (Owings, Md./Northern) is enjoying a great start to his senior season of basketball. He walked away from EMU’s game against nationally-ranked New Jersey City with his first double double of the season (16 points and 12 rebounds), and is currently second in the ODAC with shooting percentage–he’s been sinking 73.9% of his field goal attempts.
Thomas put in a lot of work in the offseason to be ready. “I lifted weights, made sure I got shots up everyday or every other day, I went on a lot of long distance jogs and did a lot of sprints. I maintained a healthy diet and slept right.”
He also worked to prepare himself mentally for the season.
“I kept a positive mindset and kept reminding myself that this is my last season playing college basketball and that I need to give everything I have,” he said. “I also prepared mentally by reading my Bible.”
The preparation is paying off for Thomas and his team on the court, as EMU’s big man is sixth in the ODAC with 16.3 points per game and tenth at 8.3 rebounds. He is leading the conference with 28.8 points per 40 minutes.
Thomas lost much of his sophomore season to an injury. Coming out of that, he has been careful to do all the little things to make this season the best it can be. “[I’m] realizing that it is my last season and I have to do absolutely everything possible to be ready, including the small things that I failed to do my sophomore year when I got hurt, like stretching everyday, running more, getting a good amount of rest, and eating right,” he said.
He attributes his development as an athlete to the people around him.
“My supporting cast, such as my family and friends, held me accountable and kept me on track to help me achieve this growth,” he said.
One of his personal goals for the season is, “to be the best player and teammate I can be, whether that’s making an all-conference team or being a leader on my team.”
He wasn’t always a basketball player. “I have always been taller than people my age and I played every sport but basketball,” Thomas said. “People always asked my parents why I wasn’t playing, so they signed me up.”
He’s glad they did.
“Basketball has always been there for me. When I am sad or having a bad day, I can just go into a gym and shoot around and forget about whatever is going on in my life and clear my head.”
Thomas has appreciated the new atmosphere created by new head coach Melvin Felix, who was promoted from his position as assistant coach.
“It’s exciting,” he explained, “we do similar things as past years but it feels like it’s a whole new environment. It’s exciting to be a part of. Coach Mel is young and brings a lot of energy and excitement to practices and its fun to be around.”
Thomas, a recreation leadership and sports studies major, hopes to stay involved with athletics after he graduates, potentially as a basketball coach.
In the meantime, he’s focused on helping the team to an ODAC Championship this year. “We came so close last season,” he said, “and our main focus is to get back to Salem. Then when we get back there anything can happen, and I’m confident in this team’s ability to win the whole thing.”
Author Elizabeth Nisly is an intern with the EMU Athletics Department.