By DOUG EADS
Campbellsville-Somerset University point guard AJ Thomas has proven to be a coach’s dream this season.
After all, you can ask Tigers head coach Al Gover and he will gladly tell you just what a talent Thomas has turned out to be this season — his first as a college basketball player.
The freshman from Fern Creek High School in Louisville has been an integral part of the Tigers success this year, and that was never more apparent than in last Tuesday night’s game — a 107-100 CU-Somerset victory over Huntington Prep Academy’s Post Grad team.
Thomas — a kid that can do it all on the basketball court– simply stuffed the stat sheet in the win over Huntington Prep, and for a while at least, he flirted with a quadruple-double.
That’s right. Not a triple-double, but a quadruple-double.
For the game, Thomas scored 12 points, pulled down 10 rebounds, dished out nine assists, and for good measure he tallied seven steals, playing lights out at the defensive end of the floor for Gover and crew.
Not a bad night indeed, as the Tigers notched another win on the year. That victory over Huntington Prep Academy improved CU-Somerset’s record for the season to 6-16.
Now that may not sound or look all that impressive at first glance, but consider this. Number one, this is a team comprised of 11 freshmen and one sophomore, so virtually the entire team has gotten its first taste of college basketball this season, with the players learning as they go.
Number two, CU-Somerset is a first-year program, so Gover and assistant coach Jason Travis knew there would be some growing pains this season. Still, even with that being said, this is a club that has shown marked improvement from where it stood at the beginning of the season.
As for Thomas, despite the fact his club is 10 games under the .500 mark, he says that contrary to what some people may think, he is having an absolute blast this year suiting up night after night for the Tigers.
“It’s been a great experience to be honest, because I have matured and learned how to just basically be a man,” stated the Tigers guard.
“We are working each day as a team, and I’ve tried to learn how to be a leader,” Thomas added. “I really feel like we’ve taken a huge step forward this year, and I can’t wait for what the future holds for all of us.”
Thomas has solidified his place in the Tigers lineup as CU-Somerset’s starting point guard, and just like in the win over Huntington Prep last Tuesday night, more times than not, the Fern Creek product simply stuffs the stat sheet night after night.
And, that’s a huge deal for Thomas, because during his career at Fern Creek High School, he had to wait his turn behind a senior class that was comprised of 10 players.
“I was more like on the back end at Fern Creek,” pointed out the CU-Somerset guard.
“We had a team full of stars, and there were 10 seniors on that team, so I had to sacrifice quite a bit and put everything to the side,and fulfill the role the coaching staff had for me,” Thomas added.
The role this year at Campbellsville-Somerset has been a relatively easy one for Thomas.
That role? Run the team’s offense, score when the shot is there, dish the ball to an open teammate, help rebound the basketball ball, and play sticky man to man defense.
And more times than not this season, AJ Thomas has fulfilled that role to the proverbial ‘T’.
Thomas is a big reason why Campbellsville-Somerset has posted a 6-5 mark over the past month and a half, after the Tigers began the season with 11 straight losses.
Thomas — a great kid away from the court — is an assassin on the hardwood. If there’s a defensive stop that needs to be made at crunch time,a critical rebound to grab, or a key assist to a cutting teammate for a potential go-ahead basket late in the game, more times than not, it’s AJ Thomas that has delivered with the game on the line.
Simply, he’s a winner, and the great thing about this kid from Louisville is he cares nothing about personal stats or glory.
AJ Thomas is a winner, and at the end of the day that’s all he’s concerned about — helping his Tigers win a basketball game.
And, over the past month and a half, Thomas has done just that — help the Tigers win basketball games.