Basketball player named to D-II All American team

Orlando Flores Jr.

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Although the Men’s Basketball Program fell to Metropolitan State in the South Central Regional Semifinals of the NCAA Division II playoffs, it hasn’t stopped the accolades from rolling in for the team.

Corbin Thomas shoots a free throw against Eastern New Mexico University. Thomas ended the game with 19 points and 7 rebounds.

Corbin Thomas, senior in kinesiology, became the second player in school history to be named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-American team for division II basketball on March 27.

The 6’8” forward averaged 14.1 points and 8.4 rebounds throughout his senior campaign, scoring 20 points on five different occasions and 10 plus points in 25 of his 31 games played. Thomas posted 11 double-doubles this season, including a season high 27-point, 18-rebound game against Texas A&M-Commerce in February that clinched the LSC title for MSU.

“One moment I really remember was when we won conference here,” Thomas said. “I was real proud of the guys for getting that done and cutting the nets down. It’s definitely something I’ll never forget. “

Another moment Thomas is sure not to forget happened on Jan. 13, when an inbound alley-oop play to Thomas against Tarleton State made it on that day’s edition of the ESPN Sports Center Top 10.

“It got a lot of attention and a lot of calls from previous coaches, family and people that had seen it on ESPN,” Thomas said. “It’s a play that we usually run out of bounds, and I was glad I was able to convert it.”

Thomas said that the experience of getting national recognition on the global sports network was cool and something that he liked, but it mostly gave him motivation to make plays for his team.

“It wasn’t something I got a really big head about,” he said. “It was something I was more proud of for getting recognition for the team and the school.”

This marks the fourth award Thomas racked up this season, including being named to the Lone Star Conference’s All Conference Team and the LSC’s Newcomer of the year, as well as the Daktronic’s All-South Central First Team.

Thomas was also named LSC Defensive Player of the Week three times this season.

“I definitely know everything that I did this year, I couldn’t have done it without my coaches or my teammates,” Thomas said. “I was happy with a lot of the things I was able to accomplish this season, but as far as everything else, not being able to go down to Atlanta was a little upsetting.”

 

The Road to MSU

Senior Corbin Thomas draws the foul in the Mustangs win over the Abilene Christian Wildcats.

The road to Thomas’ lone season at MSU had several stops along the way. Thomas started his playing career in Chicago, where he led his high school, Seton Academy, to an Illinois High School Association state championship in 2009.

“Playing ball in Chicago got me ready to play collegiately,” Thomas said. “There area lot of good players in Chicago that I got to play from high school, my traveling team and AAU ball, and that set me up to do well at the next level.”

After high school, Thomas began his collegiate career paying JuCo ball at Southwest Illinois College from 2009-2011. He then moved up to the Division I ranks, playing at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley Conference for the 2011-2012 season.

“Going to Missouri State was a dream come true for me,” Thomas said. “I wanted to go to Division I right out of high school, so getting there was a great experience. I played there for a year-and-a-half, but I decided to leave because it wasn’t working out like I wanted it to.”

Once he left Missouri State, it didn’t take long for word to get around that Thomas was available.

Thomas said that before going to SWIC, he originally looked at playing at Midland College. Coaches from that school continued to follow his career from JuCo to Missouri State. When they found out Thomas was looking to transfer schools, they immediately reached out to Coach Tres Segler here at MSU, who then notified Men’s Head Basketball Coach Nelson Haggerty.

Thomas said Haggerty told him he was looking to play him right off the bat if he came to MSU. He explained the basketball program’s winning tradition to Thomas, and that the competition he would be facing in the LSC would be comparable to the D-I competition he faced in Missouri.

“I thought he was just a real stand-up guy,” Thomas said. “He didn’t try to sell false things to me, and he kept it real with me. I liked a lot of things he was saying, and that’s what lured me here.”

Preparing for the season

Once Thomas got to MSU, he got right to work. Thomas said one of the biggest things Coach Haggerty stressed to him and his teammates was conditioning and endurance, stating that Haggerty got the whole team in shape before the season started.

“He wanted me to have a high motor, meaning I couldn’t take any plays off,” Thomas said. “He was really consistent on running the floor well, chasing after rebounds and not giving up on plays.”

Thomas’ main focus during the offseason was improving his interior-post play around the basket to give him a better all-around game. Thomas’ size, mixed with his speed gives him the ability to play both inside the paint and on the outside wing.

“I can post up a guy well if he’s a smaller opponent, or someone that I feel like I have a good chance of getting an easy basket against,” he said. “I like to step out, too. If I have a bigger guy on me, someone I can get past because I’m quicker than him, I’ll try to play both inside and out.”

Once the season came, Thomas had one goal on his mind, and that was winning.

Thomas said he wanted to come to MSU and win as much as possible, and that included the Division II national championship. Thomas said he believed he and his teammates had a good chance of accomplishing this goal.

“Initially, me and the guys were a pretty good team,” he said. “We had some returning guys who had a little chemistry, and I thought we had a chance to do well. We won conference, and we won the tournament in Allen, too. I was kind of disappointed when we dropped the second game in Denver, but we had a lot of adversity that we got through this year.”

The Next Step

Now that his eligibility is up, Thomas is already looking toward furthering his playing career after graduating with his kinesiology degree. Thomas said he’s currently compiling film and putting tapes together to send to different scouts in hopes of being shopped around to different teams.

While Thomas said he would love nothing more to return home and one day play for his hometown Chicago Bulls in front of his friends and family, his main focus right now is making the jump to playing ball overseas.

“If you can go play in a good league, like the Euro League, you can have a chance to get considered to move to the NBA,” Thomas said, “I have a friend in Germany, a friend in Romania…just a lot of different places. I was talking to them about their experiences and how it is living in a different country and playing against different guys. It’s definitely something I hope that I can get done and gain new experience from.”

No matter where life takes Thomas, will always remember his time spent as a Mustang, and he hopes to have the game as a part of his life in some capacity, whether it’s playing professionally, coaching or training.

“I love my time here,” Thomas said. “(Basketball) has definitely been a blessing to me, and it set me up to get my education. Everyone has been real supportive of me, from faculty, to coaches and players. I’m real thankful for being able to come here and finish my career.”

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