Okemos Basketball Star Senior Evan Thomas Shines On Court And In Classroom
Thomas, who holds a 3.99 GPA, is also a DI hoops prospect.
OKEMOS, Mich. - Evan Thomas, an Okemos High School senior excels in two important categories in his life: which are athletics and academics. Thomas, a 6-foot-4 forward, is having a breakthrough season, and starting to draw interest from Division 1 schools.
The Chieftains are also having a big year, at 17-1 and ranked in the top 10 in Michigan. Thomas is an important asset to that success, averaging 17.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and shooting over 43 percent from the three-point range.
“Evan has speed, athleticism, and skill,” Ira Childress, Okemos’ athletic director, said. “I have known Evan since middle school and he is one of the best leaders that we have since my time here, he is a great young man, on and off the court, and a high academic student.”
Thomas realized his passion for basketball since he was seven. Throughout middle school, he was playing baseball, soccer, and basketball. When he entered high school, he decided to focus on basketball, because of the game’s fast tempo.
“Every play there is an opportunity to do something special and I feel that's not always the case in other sports,” said Thomas.
Randy Field, his freshman coach at Okemos, played a big role in motivating Thomas. Thomas, in turn, started working harder on the court and decided his main focus was basketball.
Thomas said Field was one of his first coaches to really believe in him and encourage him to try new things on the court.
“He really pushed me to work on bettering myself both on and off the court because he saw the potential I had,” said Thomas.
It is clear that basketball is not the only focus of Thomas' life. Academics are also quite important, as he is an excellent student carrying a 3.99 GPA. Homework and studying are always completed before every practice.
This mindset is helping Thomas reach his goal of a 4.0 GPA and keep focus during practice time. He is considering Biology or Pre-Med as possible majors in college.
“From a young age my parents made it clear to me that I wasn't going to be able to play sports if I didn't take care of my work in the classroom first,” said Thomas.
He has drawn four college basketball scholarship offers so far, from Michigan Tech, Spring Arbor, Siena Heights, and Michigan-Dearborn. Thomas is also drawing attention from Division 1 schools as the season progresses.
The change in Thomas from a solid player last season, to a strong one this year, can be traced to the 2018 league championship game at East Lansing.
He guarded Brandon Johns, who finished second as the 2018 Mr. Basketball and now who now plays forward at Michigan. Thomas held Johns under his scoring average, and also led Okemos in scoring.
“I think at that game there were a lot of coaches watching and I guess I showed I could hang with a high major Division 1 athlete,” said Thomas.
Basketball runs in the Thomas family, as his father, Joseph Thomas, played at Detroit Catholic Central. He taught Thomas the fundamentals of basketball since he was young, and Thomas credits him as a great influence on his success.
Thomas speaks every day to his older sister Rachel, who plays volleyball at Tennessee Tech. When they were younger, they would spend a lot of time playing volleyball together in the driveway.
Noah Pruitt plays point guard for the Chieftains and said he and Thomas value uplifting each other and playing basketball together.
“Having Thomas as a teammate has been great, he encourages you a ton and tries to get the best out of everyone on the team,” Pruitt, a junior, said. “We have been on the same team for a while now, and his leadership skills have really come a long way since being one of the leaders on this team and that’s what we needed out of him this year.”
Ali Mousavi, a junior shooting guard, said it is special to have Thomas as a teammate.
“Having Evan as a teammate is really something special, he is a terrific leader and I can count on him every day to critique myself and my teammates which unites our team. He comes into practice with terrific energy and works tremendously hard,” said Mousavi.
Being very versatile and well-rounded on the court is what makes the presence of having Thomas as a teammate a special one.
“Having Evan as a teammate is honestly such a blessing,” Fabian Leone, the senior guard, said.