June 28, 2014

Thomas takes road less traveled

Kevin McCarthy

We all make choices each day in our lives. It's what to eat, what to wear, what directions to take to get to where we want to go and so on. But these decisions are generally not life-altering and rarely do they go against the grain of expectations. 17-year-old Matthew Thomas recently made a determination regarding what would be best for him and it wasn't the herd mentality as usual.

photo of Matthew Thomas

After graduating from Newark Memorial High and with a solid tenure on the basketball court for Coach Craig Ashmore, the 6-foot-8 Thomas weighed his multiple options and decided to enroll at Merritt College for the next two years.

Rather than pursuing bragging rights above all else with his signing and a degree of so-called prestige that goes with being a DI signee, Thomas thought long and hard about his future. To the exclusion of message board and other chatter, it boiled down to what would be best for him?

In consultation with his family, he decided time in the Oakland hills was the best option.

One reason: “I want to major in criminal justice/administration of justice and Merritt has a very good program that includes work placement so that I can learn firsthand.”

He also believes that being a member of the Thunderbird basketball program will be beneficial. “I like the way they work out and I know that Coach [Keenan] McMiller can help get me better. In my two years, I want to increase my game. I'm too small to play a five [in DI] so I think I'll be playing a three or a four at that level. My handle needs to get better and I have to get my shot right.”

Here's McMiller on his big, “I recruited Matthew Thomas because of his character, as well as the talent and upside he brings to the table. Matthew is 17 years old and with proper nurturing, mental and physical development, he has the opportunity to become a high major Division I student-athlete. He comes to campus with a solid attitude and desire to learn and improve each day. Matthew wants to be successful not only in basketball but in life. I look forward to two great years mentoring and coaching him here at Merritt College.”

With a handful of DI offers in hand, Thomas was so convinced on Merritt being the best option for him that he actually shut down his recruiting process.

“I was signed up to take the SAT test and decided not to do so.”

Already enrolled in summer classes at Merritt, Thomas is living near campus. He's also working out with and getting to know his new teammates.

In an earlier interview, he offered, “I'm looking for someone like Coach Ashmore to push me to become the best I can. I want to play with a good group of guys who work hard and win.”

Thomas believes such a replication can best be found as a Thunderbird.