Thomas Finds New Family Feeling at K-State
That solo word is presented at the beginning of K-State football games, it is the subject of countless commercials about the university and makes parents feel a little more comfortable as they wave goodbye to their 18-year-old after dropping them off for their first year of college.
However, for freshman guard Jevon Thomas, "family" is more than just a school theme, it's more than just a word tossed around with feel-good nature. "Family" is the reason the Queens, N.Y., native chose to travel halfway across the country and play basketball at K-State.
"I didn't grow up with family too much," Thomas said as he prepared for a practice, "so I wanted to be somewhere with people I could call family. The coaching staff here, they really embrace you and teach you like you're their son. I really like that. Here, it's family first and then their job second."
During his high school years, Thomas saw a lot of hardship. He played basketball at three different high schools during his four years, finishing at St. John's Northwest Military Academy in Delafield, Wis.
His teenage years were anything but easy, but while dealing with personal loss and constant transition, Thomas fell in love with the one constant in his life: basketball.
"I've been playing basketball for my whole life, since I can remember," Thomas said. "Basketball has meant a lot to me, especially during those days that I didn't have people there for me, I would always go out and play basketball. It was always there for me. The orange ball, it can't go anywhere. It's given me great opportunities in life: to go new places, meet new people, education."
Thomas arrived at K-State mid-semester, in January of 2013, and has since spent his time getting used to the Little Apple and K-State before training for the 2013-14 season began.
Before Manhattan, though, his time at St. John's gave him the opportunity to have a taste of what competing at the collegiate level would be like as the team traveled often and competed at higher levels. He shined during his final season at St. John's as he averaged 15 points and seven assists per game.
Thomas has already had the opportunity to study Bruce Weber's system and playing style since he was able to attend the team's games in Bramlage Coliseum last semester.
"The fans are amazing," Thomas said. "To play off a crowd like that is just amazing. They bring it every single night."
And for Thomas, those fans also play a big role in his opinion of the K-State Family.
"I've met a couple fans who said they've got season tickets for five different sports," Thomas said with a smile. "They show love to everybody. There are no favorites. It's just impressive. I've never seen people like this."
His excitement to get on the court and give it his all for his new "family" is evident in his dedicated work ethic. He hopes to bring leadership and intensity to the team in his years to come.
"I'm going to try my best to bring whatever we're lacking or whatever we need," Thomas said. "I'll just try and adjust and bring that to the table. But most of all, I want to bring leadership and have everybody feel comfortable."
After watching K-State win the Big 12 title last year, Thomas knows he has big shoes to fill. However, it also made him hungry to win it during his years as a Wildcat.
"First, I want to win the Big 12 Championship," Thomas said about his main goals during his time at K-State. "Just continue on winning and play to my best ability. Long term, I want to stay on top of my work and get my degree."