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Published: 2/29/2012

Thomas' versatility critical for Falcons

BG senior has fully developed his game

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Scott Thomas. Scott Thomas.
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BOWLING GREEN -- It's tough to put a label on Scott Thomas.

Since Thomas, a senior forward on the Bowling Green State University men's basketball team, ranks among the team leaders in scoring, rebounding, assists, and steals, it's hard to pinpoint his greatest virtue.

Is he a scorer who defends? A playmaker who scores? A defender who also contributes on offense?

The answer, at least for the Falcons, is that he's all of those.

"He leads us in minutes, and that's because he's hard to take off the court," BG coach Louis Orr said. "I think he's the most underrated guy in the MAC, based on what he does. He does a lot on the court."

Thomas and fellow seniors Dee Brown and Torian Oglesby will be honored before the Falcons' final regular-season home game against Miami Wednesday.

Thomas, a 6-7 senior from Buckeye Valley High School in Ashley, Ohio, is certain to earn plenty of applause for his position as one of the school's all-time leaders in a number of categories.

When his career began, Thomas didn't seem to be an all-around player.

"As a freshman, I thought he would be a high-energy guy who could score," Orr said. "But in his sophomore year, I saw more. When he got more minutes, he was the best rebounder on the team. He also had good anticipation, which helped him with the steals.

"And the one area where he has grown is he became a playmaker, a passer. I think that part of his game has grown as much as anything."

Thomas, who averaged 26.6 points per game as a high school senior, said he began to adjust his attitude as a freshman reserve on the BG team that won the MAC East and played in the NIT.

"It was frustrating at first, because you expect to do great things right out of high school," Thomas admitted. "We had great seniors who kept me calm that year.

"They were able to teach me to be patient, because they knew I would get my chance."

First he improved his rebounding, averaging better than six rebounds per game in each of the last three seasons.

Thomas enters Wednesday's game needing just one rebound to reach 651 for his career, which will put him in the school's career top 10.

"Coach always talks about having a 'nose for the ball,' " he said. "We work on rebounding every day in practice. And with our big guys like A'uston [Calhoun] and Cam [Black] and Torian able to battle down low, I'm able to sneak in there and get some rebounds."

After having more turnovers than assists as a freshman, Thomas has reversed that trend the last three seasons. He is tenth in school history with 303 career assists, making him the only forward in the top 10.

"Every year I feel I've improved in seeing the court in a different way," he said. "My sophomore year I was more of a scorer, and my junior year A'uston came in -- and he's the most 'pure' scorer on the team.

"So I had to reinvent my game a little bit, so I worked on different ways to get him the ball, and that helped me see different [passing] openings."

And Thomas has become one of BG's all-time steals leaders. This year he leads the MAC, and ranks ninth among Division I players, with his average of 2.5 per game. His 197 career thefts to rank third in Falcon history.

"I've learned to pick my spots and not gamble for everything," Thomas said. "I've been able to sit back and wait. When you've played [for a while], you're able to read other players and get a lot of hands on the ball."

Entering this season, the senior has added better 3-point accuracy to his game.

A career 29.7 percent shooter from behind the arc, he is 39.0 percent on 3's this year and has a team-high 55, nearly doubling his previous season high.

It has helped him average 12.9 points per game and enter Wednesday's contest with 1,228 points, which ranks 24th in BG history.

"I think he made a conscious effort to work on his shot," Orr said of Thomas. "I think he got better, and then he became more confident.

"He put the work in on the little things: For example, he holds his follow-through a little more than he did in the past."

While Thomas seems quiet, Orr said that hides his competitive nature.

"Scott is an intense guy on the court -- he has a fire within him that I'm sure some people miss," Orr said. "It's not something you see outwardly, but Scott is a competitor."

That competitive nature, combined with his polished all-around game, is something other MAC coaches have noticed.

"He's been a thorn in our side since I've been the coach here," Ohio coach John Groce said earlier this season. "He's a tough kid. He's one of those guys that I admire because he plays every night to win the game. That's his only goal.

"That's his only motive, and I admire him for that."

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com, 419-724-6481, or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.



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