Maurice Dixon

@WriturRece |

In the previous edition of 1-on-1 with former Missouri State star forward Alize Johnson, I mentioned how we don’t know who knows this person or who is related to that person. Well, this piece isn’t a result of a conversation during an eight-hour shift but a product of premarital counseling.

Prior to my wife and I getting married in May, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas, who also serve as ministers, gave us some great advice in our counseling sessions. During some small talk, I discovered that their son, Brian Thomas, was a freshman on the Florida Gulf Coast basketball team.

I didn’t get to see Thomas play when the Eagles visited Kennesaw State or when they almost made that epic comeback against Lipscomb in the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship game, which was televised on ESPN. But I did catch up with the 6-9 forward/center at Changing A Generation Full Gospel Baptist Church in East Point, Georgia to talk about his first season as a college basketball player, his goals for the upcoming season and much more in this edition of 1-on-1.

Personally, what was the highlight of your season?

When I came home to Kennesaw, I played the most minutes I played all season. I had nine [points] and eight [rebounds]. I was pretty happy I was able to do that in front of my family. I felt like I had a great motor. I was running the floor a lot. I got fouled a couple of times. I was going after rebounds and got a lot of offensive rebounds that game and putbacks.

[Thomas was the third-leading scorer in the Eagles’ 66-49 win against the Owls.]

Unfortunately, you were prevented from having more of those outings due to a hand injury that caused you to miss 14 games. How do you think your season-ending injury in high school helped you deal with a different injury last year?

It made me realize you can’t take basketball for granted. At any time, your career could be over because actually I broke my foot June going into my senior year and the doctor recommended that I didn’t need surgery. It healed then the first game of my senior year in the third quarter just running down the court it broke again. I was crying after that game. It was bad because at that time I had more schools that were going to come see me my senior year but of course I couldn’t play anymore. From that point, I went and took visits from the schools that had already offered me and Florida Gulf Coast was the right fit.

You’ve been playing for a while and blessed to play beyond high school. What surprised you the most about the transition from high school to college basketball?

They warn you about level of intensity from high school to college. When I first got there, it was crazy. In the beginning of the work out, I was already tired and it was just the beginning. We had 45 minutes left. So it took a minute to adjust to how hard it was. Everyday 100 percent instead of in high school you can have some off days just because you are better than everybody but in college everyone is good so you have to give it your best.

With that experience under your belt, what advice would you give to all the incoming freshmen?

To definitely make sure before you go you get conditioned because you might feel like you are going to pass out on the court. Make sure you have the right mindset because you are going to have days when you got class, workouts and weights all in one day. If you don’t have the right mindset you’re not going to do well and help the team.

Now that you know what to expect, what are your goals for your sophomore season?

I want to definitely get better. I can shoot but I want to develop it more so I can utilize it in my game. Also I want to increase my minutes. I know this might be big but I want to try to average a double-double this year.

You said shooting is one of your main focuses. Do you say that because you know how the game is going? Guys your height are expected to step out–be stretch players. Is that kind of influencing you?

Definitely. If I want to play at the next level, I want to be able to showcase that I can shoot or put it on the floor and get to the basket against slower players.

[During his time back home, Thomas spent many mornings and afternoons at his former high school Kell, shooting as many as 500 shots at session on The Gun.]

Years ago, Florida Gulf Coast became known as “Dunk City” and you’re wearing a T-shirt which dons that nickname. You said you want to average a double-double this season but how many dunks do you want to have on your resume next year?

As many as I can. I want to say 100. Before me there was a big who had 100 or more every single year. He was an incredible athlete so I want to do something like that this year.

Is there a player you would compare yourself to or people have compared you to?

At this time, I get compared to Bam Adebayo. He went to Kentucky and got drafted by Miami. He’s a very athletic big. He can shoot the jumper. He gets a lot of putbacks and is a very good rebounder.

The basketball department featured you in some promotional videos. What did you like most about being in front of a camera in that manner?

They chose me for a lot of those things because I’m probably the most well-spoken person on the team. I like being chosen like that and it’s good publicity to get my name out there like that.

What are some of your interests outside of basketball?

I like reading. It took me a while but I’m starting to like public speaking a little bit so I’m taking that class in the fall.

Do you play video games?

I play NBA 2K. That new game Fortnite is out but I’m not that into it and not that good. I have a MyCareer player but he’s actually a point guard. I already play as a big in real life so I want to play as somebody else. I play against my teammates during the season and it gets pretty competitive sometimes.

Here at Changing A Generation your parents are counselors. Your father is the second assistant pastor and your mother is a minister as well. How does that dynamic help you with basketball or your faith?

Ever since I was young I was always in the church. Maybe three or four times a week. It definitely helps me with my faith, just believing in God even when stuff gets hard. When I broke my hand or stuff like that or maybe I wasn’t getting enough playing time, I can always pray about and it would get better.