Senior guard Rob Thomas leads from the front.
The 5-foot-10-inch 185 pound Odessa native has cemented himself as a key leader on 2017-2018 Texas Wesleyan men’s basketball team, according to head coach Brennen Shingleton. The team was ranked No. 11 in the NAIA in a poll released Oct. 23.
“He displays leadership with hard work and consistency,” Shingleton said. “He’s even balanced every day, he’s a good communicator with us and with his teammates.”
Shingleton knows firsthand the difficulty of learning to be a leader, and he maintains that although Thomas is new at this, his intentions are in the right place.
“I think his instincts are right. Rob [Thomas] does what is best for the team,” Shingleton said. “He does what he needs in order for us to win and that displays true leadership.”
Thomas claims that the events leading to him coming to Wesleyan were almost serendipitous; previously he was playing at Southern Mississippi under head coach Doc Sadler.
“It sounds crazy, but it just sort of happened,” Thomas says. “I was playing at Southern Mississippi and I was struggling.”
The 21-year-old liberal studies major credits Southern Mississippi’s video coordinator and Texas Wesleyan alumnus Doug Compton with leading him to Wesleyan’s basketball program.
“Doug had told me how great the program was here,” Thomas says. “They [Wesleyan] had just won a national championship, so I decided to transfer here.”
In addition to making the move to Wesleyan from Southern Mississippi, Thomas credits his success to the hard work and consistency instilled by Shingleton during practice.
“If you’re not challenging yourself physically and mentally every day, there is no way that you will get better,” Thomas says.
Last year’s first round NAIA National Tournament exit for the Rams was followed by the departure of eight graduating seniors, including NAIA All-Americans Ryan Harris and Brandon Jenkins.
However, Shingleton isn’t worried and says that this year’s team is a more cohesive unit than previous teams.
“We are going to be more of a team this year than we are individuals,” Shingleton says. “The strength of this team is our balance; we don’t have a guy that can score a ton of points a night like Jenkins or Harris. We have seven or eight guys that can score a night and that makes us difficult to guard.”
Sophomore guard Alec Daniels echoes Shingleton’s observations on Thomas’ emerging leadership.
“On the court, he’s the loudest,” Daniels said. “He’s a great communicator, and he makes sure everyone is engaged on the sidelines and the court.”
Daniels says within Thomas’ toolbox of leadership is more than just being vocal; he leads by example as well.
“He’s fast paced and sets the tempo for offense and defense,” Daniels said. “We always follow that pace.”
Thomas is confident for the upcoming season.
“The transfers and returners have filled the spots well,” Thomas says. “Our strength is that we have good team chemistry and play well together.”
The Rams play their first home game Nov. 1 against Louisianna State University Shreveport at 7 p.m. in Sid Richardson.