SE: Gipson Off to Exciting Start in First Pro Season

It didn’t take former Wildcat men’s basketball standout Thomas Gipson long to find success on the basketball court in Finland.

The 6-foot-5, 270-pound power forward, who played for the Wildcats from 2011-15, recently concluded his first season playing with Kouvot out of Kouvola, Finland, where he helped the team win the Finnish national title for just the fourth time in program history.

“It was very exciting,” said Gipson over the phone. “We won the championship on our home floor, and that is always a plus. It was a roller coaster season for everybody, so it was really special for us to pull out a championship as a team. For me it was special because I feel like I'm a winner. I think winning the title will help me throughout my professional year.”

After a 100-76 victory over Tampereen Pyrinto on May 11, where Gipson scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds, Kouvot was crowned Finnish champion by taking the series, 4-1.  

“Playing in a series like that is really tough,” continued Gipson. “After a while you know each other’s scouting reports, so it really boils down to who wants it more, who's mentally tough and which team is in better shape. We were superior in all three and got rewarded for it. It was really exciting though because we were playing in ice hockey arenas. The fans were loud and more involved in the game, which got us more pumped to bring home the championship.”

One of Kouvot’s key players, Gipson played in every game of the championship series as he averaged 9.5 points and a team-best 12 rebounds per game.

In his first professional season with the club, he averaged 14.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.4 steals per game and helped Kouvot to an overall 21-15 record.

“Because I know what it takes to win a championship in a league, I think it will help me grow to be a leader in the future,” said Gipson. “Not a lot of people can say that they have won a championship like that playing overseas.”

During his time at K-State, Gipson was a two-time Honorable Mention All-Big 12 selection (2014-15) and helped the Wildcats to a Big 12 title in 2013. He finished his career as one of just seven players in school history to rank in the school’s top 15 in both scoring and rebounding as he finished 14th in scoring with 1,232 points and seventh in rebounding with 700 boards. He earned 95 career starts in 131 total games played during his four years, and, for his hard work off the court, was named to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll five times.

Following his time playing with Kouvot, Gipson made the trip to Sonora, Mexico, last week where he is currently competing with Halcones Ciudad Obregon (CD Obregon) until its season concludes in July.  
“The situation was that I just got done with the championship and I still had time to keep playing,” said Gipson. “In Mexico, the season doesn’t get done until July, while in Finland, their season got done early. After the championship, my agent made a couple calls and I landed here.”

Gipson said while the game is a bit different in Mexico than it is in Finland, he’s adapted well and is taking advantage of this opportunity to stay in shape and stay on the court.

Using the experience he gained winning the Finland national title with Kouvot, Gipson said he’s able to better lead his new teammates with CD Obregon.

“Now I want to win a title everywhere I go; it's not always about stats for me,” he closed. “I want to do the little things that makes my team win, and I want to keep doing that every chance I get. Right now being in Mexico, I kind of stepped into a leadership role because I do the little things to help my team be successful and people take notice of that.”

Gipson plans on finishing the season with CD Obregon before returning to the United States where he plans on competing with a group of former K-State alumni in The Basketball Tournament.

For more information about Purple and Black, the summer team made up of former Wildcats, please click here.