By Jeff Odom
There are times when one may think Wesley Chapel forward Erik Thomas has a Superman costume beneath his navy blue uniform.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound senior is leading all Pasco County in scoring this season with an eye-popping 32.7 points per game after averaging 21.7 last year.
“I’m just trying to get seen and play hard on the court,” Thomas said.
He hasn’t just been seen — he’s turned heads.
Twice this season, Thomas set career-highs in scoring for the Wildcats. First, a 41-point night against Fivay Dec. 7 and then, just four days later, he broke that mark with 45 against Gulf.
He set the program’s all-time points record by scoring 30 in a 67-29 victory over district rival Pasco on Dec. 4. Thomas has 1,566 during his time in high school.
Teammate Brian Rodriguez said they absorb the energy and leadership Thomas displays on a nightly basis.
“He’s a leader and a natural scorer,” Rodriguez said. “When he comes off the bench or when he comes on the floor, he just ignites us. His hard work demonstrates to us that that’s what it takes to do that, and we feed off of him a lot.”
And while those scoring numbers have impressed, another category he leads in is making Wesley Chapel coach Doug Greseth smile — rebounds.
For the 10th-year coach who preaches getting on the ball fast break and wearing out opponents with aggressive defense, Thomas’ 18.3 rebounds stand out more than anything.
“Quite frankly, I’m more impressed with his rebounding than his scoring. I mean, he’s had four games where he’s had 20 or more rebounds,” Greseth said. “You just don’t find that in high school, and we’ve had some injuries, some illnesses, some suspensions and he’s really filled in, and to get that many rebounds is unbelievable.”
Thomas is also contributing stats usually associated with guards. He is averaging 3.9 assists and 2.8 steals.
In the offseason, Thomas went overseas to work with the Argentinean national team during its run in the Summer Olympic Games. He said seeing how much different the game is was eye-opening.
“I was there for like half the summer and then I got back and injured my hand and just had to come back strong, worked out, did conditioning and just got back into shape,” Thomas said. “It’s a brand new, different game. Everything’s different, and it’s about teamwork and down to the structure of basketball. So, it was a great experience.”
Thomas has received interest from several Division II and III colleges, including Saint Leo and South Alabama. He said his hope is that he will one day play for a major university, but for now, it’s about being there to aid in his team’s quest for a district title.
“We have to keep our head straight and keep playing,” Thomas said. “It’s a new season. We have to come out and play hard and do our job on the court. Everything else will settle through and work its way.”
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.