By DEL DUDUIT
Southern Ohio Today
Miles Thomas has some good connections with the NBA.
He is a cousin to former four-time league All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace, and also JaJuan Smith.
With that, the Chattanooga, Tennessee native wants to make his own path to basketball.
The Walters State (Tennessee) product will finish out his collegiate basketball career at Shawnee State University as a second-semester transfer from the University of Tennessee-Martin, a member of the Division I Ohio Valley Conference, where he averaged 7.1 points per game.
“It’s great to join the Shawnee State men’s basketball family,” Thomas said. “They’ve got a great culture. I’m just hoping to add to it and keep the upward momentum going. I’m appreciative of the opportunity.”
Thomas – a 6-foot-6, 185-pound wingman – did not take basketball seriously until middle school, when he started to make his presence known.
In high school, he scored more than 1,500 points and averaged 16 points, eight rebounds and four blocks per game.
During his senior year campaign at South Doyle High School, he averaged 21 points per game and was named the District 2-AAA Player of the Year and was an all-state honorable mention.
Thomas joined a who’s-who of great natural talents, including future Clemson and Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver standout Tee Higgins, current Memphis standouts Tyler Harris and Alex Lomax, and Oregon letter-winner Chandler Lawson.
“My sixth-grade year was when I got into basketball heavily. From then on, I tried to pattern my game after Dwayne Wade. Growing up, that was somebody I tried to imitate,” Thomas said. ” With South Doyle, that was a place where they were trying to change the culture. My group was the start of that, so that was huge.”
Thomas redshirted his freshman year at Tennessee Tech in 2016 and played the next two years at Walters State Community College, where he averaged 12.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game as a freshman.
The next year, he bumped up his production to 21.4 points point-per-game, 6.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.6 steals. He was named as the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association’s (TCCAA) Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year.
Thomas also won NJCAA National Player of the Week honors once, scored 1,040 points with Walters State, led the unit to a 23-8 overall record in his second season with the program, and was named to the NJCAA All-Star Game in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“I learned how to become a better leader, both on and off of the court,” Thomas said. “My game also matured from an intangibles standpoint. The competition was great. There were great players that made the professional ranks, so it was a good, competitive environment.”
Thomas’ production caught the attention of Shawnee State Associate Coach Lindal Yarbrough.
“I’ve known him since high school,” Thomas said. “There was always a connection there. Outside of basketball, Coach Lin was just real genuine. I knew that it wasn’t going to be ever about using me as a person, but even more helping me mature as a person in order to become a better player.”
Thomas added he believes he will be a good fit at Shawnee State and has high aspirations of helping the Bears reach the next level.