Thomas takes home PBC Freshman of the Year
For the second time in three seasons, a GC men’s basketball player has brought home the award of Peach Belt Conference Freshman of the year.
Following in the footsteps of teammate Isaac Thomas who won the award at the end of the 2015-2016 season, the 6-foot-1-inch guard Jordan Thomas of Conyers, Ga. was named PBC Freshman of the year following his outstanding performance during the 2017-2018 campaign.
Jordan Thomas, an exercise science major, attended Heritage High School where he recorded 1,000 career points.
GC assistant coach Ryan Aquino recruited Thomas in October 2016. Thomas said the genuine people and nice facilities helped him in his decision making of committing to GC.
As a freshman, Thomas played in every game this season and led the team in minutes per game and points per game. He scored an average of 13.7 points per game and played an average of 32.4 minutes each game.
“He is a natural scorer,” Gainous said. “I was proud that he had such a good year playing in a position that he’s never played before. Some games he played 40 minutes, and that is really challenging. If he wasn’t physically ready for that, I wouldn’t have done it. He goes full speed at everything he does, and I appreciate that.”
Despite leading GC in scoring this season, Thomas was challenged early on, as he changed positions early in the season. He started as a shooting guard but shifted positions selflessly after the starting point guard Desmond Mitchell-LaFlam broke his ankle after the fourth game.
Thomas said the adversity of changing positions was challenging in the beginning.
“The first few games were hard, and I was nervous because I never played that position,” Thomas said. “I didn’t do that good either, and I had a lot of turnovers. I started practicing more at that position and getting comfortable. Then it became easier with the help of my coaches and their confidence in me.”
When Thomas started preseason workouts, he was shocked at how much his hard work paid off.
“Basketball and preseason conditioning was really hard,” Thomas said. “But I learned that I was more fit than I thought.”
Head coach Mark Gainous said he was overly pleased with Thomas’ fitness.
“You could tell he spent a lot of time during the summer conditioning, weightlifting and playing,” Gainous said. “He physically prepared himself in the summer to be ready to have a good season. He was one of the most physically fit players we’ve ever had here at GC.”
Thomas’ hard work ethic and toughness undoubtedly helped him this season.
“It’s cool to win PBC Freshman of the Year,” Thomas said. “But I have to stay humble and still work because a lot of people in their sophomore season get in a slump or get too relaxed, and I can’t do that because that will only push me back. I have to keep working.”
Thomas gives his mom and grandma credit for his success.
“They always come to every game, even the away games,” he said. “They are my support system, and they keep me going.”
Gainous said that Thomas is an easy-going, fun and loving person but very competitive on the court.
“He can flip that switch, which I really like,” Gainous said.
Thomas also has a strong relationship with his teammates. Teammate and former co-PBC Freshman of the Year Isaac Thomas said that Jordan is a really nice guy and likes to hang out with his teammates. The elder Thomas explained that earning the PBC Freshman of the Year award takes a year of hard work.
“Jordan definitely deserved it,” Isaac said. “He was the best freshman that I saw playing, and he stepped up and became a leader.”
Gainous has high expectations for the reigning freshman of the year next year.
“I think he can be one of the best players to ever play here,” Gainous said. “The challenge for Jordan is to be more efficient. If Jordan can get up to shooting 45 to 50 percent from the floor, it can make our team a lot better. He will be moved back to his natural position next year, and I expect him to be an All-Conference player moving forward.”
Thomas’ goals for next season are to gain more muscle and get his shooting percentage higher.
“I want to get stronger and work on every aspect of my game,” Thomas said. “I want to work on shooting, passing and ball handling. I want my teammates to work on their skills too, so we can all be better next year.”