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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Men's Basketball

Freshman leads the break for UH


Freshman forward TaShawn Thomas is averaging 11 points, eight rebounds and two blocks through the Cougars’ first two wins. | Joshua Siegel/The Daily Cougar

TaShawn Thomas’ daily routine doesn’t differ too much from any other first-semester freshman at UH.

“If I’m not not here or at practice with the team, I’m either playing Call of Duty, sleeping or studying,” Thomas said.

What does stand out about the 6’8 forward is that he not only brings the rebounding and shot blocking skills expected of someone his size — but it’s not uncommon to catch Thomas leading the up-tempo Cougars on a fast break.

“I wasn’t always this tall,” Thomas said.

Thomas featured as a perimeter player in middle school before being struck by a growth spurt during his freshman year of high school.

“I could still dribble, but my coach moved me down to post,” Thomas said. “But I still worked on my dribble at home.”

In his collegiate debut for the Cougars against Grambling State on Saturday, fans were treated to both sides of his game as he scored 13 points, grabbed eight rebounds, blocked three shots and totaled three steals, but also led several breaks, going coast-to-coast several times and handing out five assists.

Thomas looks like he has a chance to be the total package for the Cougars.

“He’s long and athletic,” senior guard Darian Thibodeaux said. “He can get rebounds from Dallas if he wanted to.

“He can score around the basket, get offensive and defensive rebounds, and he can push it up the floor and make good decisions when he’s handling it.”

Thomas chose to come to UH after averaging 21 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks per game for Killeen High School as a senior, earning him the District 8-4A Most Valuable Player.

His decision to come to UH was made easy by head coach James Dickey and his coaching staff.

“When I came on my visit, it felt great,” Thomas said.

“Right when I got here, I just knew that it felt like home.”

Thomas has enjoyed his first few months in Houston and on campus.

Like every ambitious player, Thomas hopes that his playing days don’t end in college, and that he can eventually go pro. But the UH campus has given him a few ideas of what he might like to do post-basketball, one of which is becoming an engineer.

“It just hit me this year after I’ve seen all of the construction at school,” Thomas said. “Every morning just waking up and seeing how they’re putting up a new building.

“As every month goes on, you see how the building is changing and I don’t know why, but I like that a lot. And I could see myself doing that later on in life.”

Despite his early success for the Cougars, the freshman hopes to keep a level head, which he says his father, Ken, plays a big role in.

“I think he’s the reason why I’m so humble,” Thomas said. “I would have a good game in high school and then he would come back and watch film, ‘You could’ve had this rebound, could’ve had this rebound. You could have made this shot. Why didn’t you do this or that?’

“I used to get mad over it, but now that I see that it helps me out, I really appreciate it. I tell him every other day when I talk to him, ‘I appreciate what you’ve done for me and raised me to be a great basketball player.’”

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