Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball
Search

Welcome back, Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas is feeling like a high school kid again. That’s a good thing on the court for the University of Hawai’i basketball team.

After missing all of last season with a wrist injury, Thomas opened the 2017-18 season – his senior campaign with the Rainbow Warriors – by leading Hawai’i to a 3-0 record and the championship of the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 18.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

“It’s tough, as an individual, you want those things,” Thomas said of his MOP trophy. “You want to be recognized, you want all that stuff … but I try to take as much attention away from that as possible, just so I can play and be focused. If you focus on that, you get selfish and you change the dynamic of our team. It was exciting just to be out there and win.”

If there is a player on the current roster who knows what it takes to win in a UH uniform, it is Thomas. He emerged as a starter as a sophomore in 2014-15, and that team finished with 22 wins. As a junior, he started every game during the historic 2015-16 season that featured a school-record 28 wins, a Big West Conference championship, and an upset win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

“That team played with a ton of heart, especially with what we went through,” Thomas said. “But this team has to play with a little more heart, I think. We’re undersized at times, and we have to scrap … I’m proud of the guys stepping up.”

Thomas averaged 7.1 points per game as a sophomore, and 7.9 points per game as a junior. Based on the first three games of this season, it appears he will be looked at as one of the primary scoring options for the Warriors. He doesn’t see it that way, though.

“I still think I’m a role player, it’s just that my role has changed,” he said. “There’s still things I have to get better at still … I’m just going out there and playing my game. That’s what (coaches Eran Ganot and Adam Jacobsen) talk to me a lot about – doing what I do, at a better level.”

Coincidence or not, Thomas’ recent success came in a new jersey number, 13. He wore number 25 during his first three seasons, and then was going to be number 1 last season (prior to his season-ending injury).

The last time he wore 13 was during his senior season at El Camino Real High in California. He was the league MVP that season (2012-13). His favorite NBA players, James Harden and Paul George, also wear 13, but Thomas said the number change was mostly about going back to his basketball roots.

“When I was in high school, I played my most comfortable basketball – I was able to score, I was able to defend … I had fun,” he said. “I’m feeling the same right now.”

(Photos courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com)

2 Comments

  1. I hope Mike is rewarded with a huge senior season for having endured the often-chaotic times the past few seasons. Through it all, he’s been an exemplary student-athlete and representative of the university and the state.

  2. Way to go and thank you Mike!

    If he continue to play like this the whole season, there is reason to believe UH can win the Big West.

Leave a Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Supporters