EAST WENATCHEE — Opposing coaches have long known about Eastmont guard Trea Thomas, but now his name is making its way out to programs at the next level.
Thomas, the leading scorer in the Big Nine 3A Division this season, has received interest from several schools, including Washington State, UCLA, Eastern Washington and Yale.
“Yale’s been real interested. They’ve talked to me the most,” Thomas said. “I actually wasn’t expecting that at all. When they sent me the first letter I was pretty shocked by that.”
Also on the list of interested programs are Army at West Point, the University of San Francisco and Western Oregon University.
It’s not just Thomas’ on-court abilities that are helping him out — his 3.1 grade-point average lets programs know he’s serious about the classroom, too.
“I definitely work a lot harder in the classroom. I have to keep my grades up as much as possible,” Thomas said. “I like to think that if my grades are as good as I do on the court, it’s just going to double my scholarship chances, so I can maybe get a half-academic, half-athletic scholarship.”
Though Eastmont struggled in the Big Nine this season — it was fifth in the league, finished 8-13 overall and was ousted from the playoffs after one game — Thomas’ junior year featured some impressive improvements. He bumped his scoring average to 21.3 points per game from 12.9 the year before, shot 37 percent from the floor, 33 percent on 3-pointers, and 76 percent from the free-throw line, and only bettered his reputation as a lock-down defender.
“He’s getting it done behind the arc, mid-range jumpers, getting to the hoop and getting to the free-throw line,” Eastmont coach Mike Waters said. “There wasn’t a kid in the league that could stop Trea from getting into the paint.”
The league certainly took notice. He was named first team all-league and first team all-defense, was third in voting for player of the year and second in voting for defensive player of the year.
“I’ve had numerous coaches tell me, ‘Boy, I wish I had Trea,’ ” Waters said. “He’s easily the best guard in the league, and the voting reinforced that. I know that other coaches are game-planning to stop Eastmont by stopping Trea Thomas.”
Thomas is a well-known workaholic — Waters said he was back in the gym for lifting and leaping drills the Monday after the Wildcats’ season ended — and his summer schedule reflects that. In addition to his daily workouts, he’ll play throughout the spring and summer with the elite Spokane Pump N Run team, where his teammates include Greater Spokane League leading scorer and University of San Diego commit Brett Bailey of University High School.
“I have to work on pushing the ball. I have to get bigger, hit the weight room a lot — I’m hoping to put on 10 more pounds in the offseason,” said the 5-foot-10 Thomas. “A bunch of college athletes are 6-1, 6-2, so I have to work on the weights more, have to develop more of an outside game, more of a floater in the lane.”
“(Thomas) has had some God-gifted ability and great genetics, but he’s put hours and hours into his game so that when November comes around, he’s ready,” Waters said.