Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Meet the Warriors: Joston Thomas

The best of Joston Thomas is still to come.

For now, the sophomore forward for the Hawaii basketball team is filling in nicely as a “role” player. While he has the skills to be a double-double performer, Thomas said he is content to take a secondary responsibility as he adapts to NCAA Division I basketball.

“We’ve got guys, older guys, on this team who can score it,” Thomas said. “I don’t know what my role is going to be the rest of this season. Right now I’m just screening for shooters and trying to get rebounds and play defense.

“As long as we get the win, I’m cool with five points, six boards, a couple blocks. I’m cool with that. Get the seniors out of here on a good note, let them end their college career good. I’m perfectly fine with that.”

Thomas is averaging 10.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, and has displayed glimpses of brilliance in his first season as a Warrior.

His driving dunk over Utah’s 7-foot-3 center in the Diamond Head Classic was one of the top individual highlights of this season so far. He also leads the team in dunks and has become a crowd favorite because of his emotional style of play.

“I wouldn’t say I play to the crowd,” he said. “It’s just the ins and outs of basketball. I just love basketball that much, it makes me very emotional.”

It is a style he learned while growing up in Washington, D.C., and playing against players from what he calls “The DMV” – D.C., Maryland, Virginia.

Since he was a young teenager, Thomas has been competing against elite competition, and it turned him into one of the top prep prospects in the country. He ended up at College of Southern Idaho to gain academic credits, then signed with Hawaii because of his past connections with head coach Gib Arnold.

“Hawaii is far away from home, it’s different,” Thomas said. “But it’s the best place for me basketball-wise.”

In preparation for his first season of NCAA basketball, Thomas spent last summer on the East Coast, scrimmaging and working out with several NBA players, including Kevin Durant, Juan Dixon, Greivis Vasquez and Ty Lawson.

“In the D.C., Maryland, Virginia area we got a lot of high-profile type players,” Thomas said. “In the summer time, everybody just comes back home and works out together.”

Thomas said he plans to do the same thing this summer, so that he can come back even better next season. He is already the strongest player on the team, and surprisingly, one of the fastest.

“Right now, we don’t need me to be the magnificent scorer, or the magnificent shot blocker or stuff like that,” he said. “Right now, we just need me to play hard – get boards and work with my teammates, stay together.”

Because of his various skills, Thomas has had to fill several roles for the Warriors this season. Due to injuries to other players, Thomas has had to play both on the perimeter and in the post at different times. Currently, he is filling an “energizer” role, coming in where ever the team needs him most.

“What ever the coach and the team wants me to do, I’m going to do,” he said. “As long as we get the W.”

Thomas said the distance from his family has also been a difficult adjustment, although he needs only to look down his left arm for inspiration. Thomas has 25 tattoos on his body, including several tributes to his family on his left arm.

“I just like artwork and ink,” he said. “It’s important to me. (The tattoos) are all about life and my family.”

He said he realizes that there are critics of his flashy game, his fiery style and his ink-covered arms. He also has a tattoo to help him with that.

“It says ‘No one can see through what I am except the one who made me,’ ” he said. “That’s pretty big because I get a lot of people who judge me on a day-in, day-out basis, so this keeps me humble.”


  1. I love Joston Thomas style of play, very passionate on the court and can bring it inside or pop outside or stuff it down your throat. I really would like him to become more of a focal point on the offensive side of the ball. I know we got Bill Amis down low, Zane Johnson who’s been pretty consistent carrying the scoring load but Joston is a beast and should be a 20 – 10 kinda guy easily. In fact I could see him dominating and becoming an All-WAC first teamer the next two years. Vander Joaquim is another guy that if he keeps developing his game could be a force as well. Having Joston and Vander banging the boards and getting nasty on people should be the norm rather than a spark when needed. Anyway, that’s just me but I feel these two guys especially Joston has the most upside on the team and the most NBA potential…

  2. Joston may have the most NBA potential, but he needs to really cut down on his turnovers and vastly improve his shot selection. Too often, he’ll get himself into trouble with the unneccesary spin-move, cross-over dribble, or behind-the-back pass.. If he learns to play within the offense and improve upon his rebounding and defense, the sky’s the limit for this man-child..

  3. nice to get these kind of players? if we can steal bench players from big schools like how we got joston we’d be pretty good. players that don’t see much playing time at the big schools could become powers in mid-major programs and get 30 plus minutes a game. i wonder if rod flemings last year was with these guys he’d look amazing. I wanna see if gib can get top mid-major players two years from now (realistically, or just could be the hawaii curse)

  4. Joston is fine, he may seem erratic at times but still I’d give him the green light. What he needs is a point guard that can feed him the ball in the right spots. Right now our point guards are not in sync with everyone, they are not creative with the ball and too slow. Hiram although his game has improved a lot from last year still isn’t the type of point guard we need. He’s decent but his ball-handling is suspect, cannot create really, and is slow… Bobby Miles still plays sloppy and needs to take care of the ball, this is where I think Anthony Salter if given more playing time would have showed his creativity with the ball and got everyone else involved. Anyway, I hope we find a solid point guard that can create and has court vision. Coach Gib needs to start using his ties on the East Coast in Chicago and NY for some true point guard types…

  5. I like Joston Thomas. His tough, play hard and seems to have a good positive attitude. Let’s get the w’s this week. Go Warriors!!

  6. I disagree with his comment that he doesnʻt have to be a “magnificent” scorer; we need him to score more and certainly challenge more shots or at least up his activity on the D end.
    We need him to abuse guys in the post, up their foul count, get to the line – to assume more of the scoring burden.
    We need him to be more active on the boards. His rebounding fundamentals are atrocious. His defensive rotations are sub par at best. He disappears far too often and for too long of a stretch.
    Scary what he could do in this depleted WAC. He is a tough match up for pretty much every team in the league.
    Turnovers and shot selection are points of emphasis for him, and we need to allow him to grow and sort that out.
    What we need from him right now is a more assertive approach on both ends. There is a leadership vacuum, and he is the most likely candidate to strap this team on his shoulders and be alpha dog for a while.
    Lotʻs of promise, butʻs letʻs hold back on labeling him “tough” for now.

  7. “True point guard types” can only be found in Chicago and the east coast?

    Jason Kidd
    St. Joseph Pilots
    Alameda, California

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