Torey Thomas is a 30 year old 178cm point guard from White Plains, New York that is playing his ninth professional season and first for Rosa Radom (Poland-TBL). He started his basketball career at Holy Cross (NCAA) in 2003 where he played until 2007 playing a total of 125 NCAA games. As a senior he played 34 games averaging 13.7ppg, 4.7rpg, 4.7apg, 2.8spg, FGP: 37.5%, 3Pts: 40.3%, FT: 77.1%. Last season he played for Aris Thessaloniki (Greece-A1) playing 31 games averaging 10.2ppg, 3.9rpg, 3.4apg, Steals-1(1.8spg), FGP: 47.0%, 3PT: 34.5%, FT: 75.4%,He is a basketball globetrotter as he has played in 11 countries since turning professional in 2007 and Rosa Radom is his 17th professional team that he has laced up his sneakers for. He is still looking for his first professional title, but has demonstrated his basketball craft on both sides of the court as he was top assist man in Holland, scorer in Sweden and steals in Sweden, Holland, Russia, and Greece. He is a a true °pass-first” point guard, but that can lead a game in scoring on any night. Unselfish player. Makes everyone else better and on the defensive side an absolute lockdown defender that is a great on the ball defender. Like Quantez Robertson can fill up the stats sheet. He spoke to German Hoops before the Europe Cup game against the Fraport Skyliners.
Torey thanks for talking to German Hoops. How did you get into 2016 and what new years resolutions do you have as a player and as person?
You’re welcome Miles. Happy New Year. I don’t have any resolutions as a player or as a person. I simply set goals and try my best to achieve them.
You are 30 years old and playing your 9th professional season and your playing for your 17th professional team and in your 11 country. Do you at times feel like you are a basketball globetrotter?
Yes I definitely feel like I’m a basketball globetrotter. What better way is it to play basketball and see the world than what I am doing now.
If someone had told you in the summer of 2008 after your rookie season with teams in Turkey, Sweden and France that a kid from White Plains, New York would still be playing professionally in 2015 what would you have thought?
I would have thought that I am extremely blessed to have this opportunity. I know how hard I work for this but many people don’t get to keep playing professionally as long as I do and I very grateful. I thank God everyday for this blessing.
You played once before in Poland with PGE Turow Zgorzelec (Poland-PLK) and this season your playing for Rosa Radom (Poland-TBL), 5 years after playing in Poland last, how would you describe the player Torey Thomas and what does he have now that he didn´t have in the 2010-2011 season?
I have more wisdom. Playing for these years I gained more and more knowledge of the game.
Currently Rosa Radom is in second place behind Stelmet as the top positions are very tight. What have been the main reasons for the success of the team?
We play as a cohesive unit on both ends of the floor. We play very solid defense and we move the ball around on offense. We have a good mixture of players and good teammates. Our coaches believe in our abilities.
A big strength of the team is team defense as it allows 70 points in the Polish league and has given up 70 points or less seven times. What has been key for developing this consistency on the defensive end so early in the season?
Communication and togetherness. Knowing that if you get beat one of your teammates will be there to help you and always rotating to the next player. We take pride in our defense.
Another team strength is team rebounding. You and American CJ Harris average 9,6rpg combined. How key has been the guards helping out at all times?
This helps big time. When your guards rebound it takes pressure off of the big guys and they can focus on good boxing out. When the guards like us rebound we can score points in transition.
American CJ Harris might be the teams top scorer, but aside from that what other aspect does he give the team that is extra special?
He’s can create his own shot very well, rebounds very well, and plays defense. He’s an up and coming star. Euro league type of player.
Rosa Radom had a 5-1 record in the first round of Europe Cup and now come into a group with Frankfurt, Royal Hali and Sodertalje. What can we expect from this group?
This is an extremely tough group. You can expect some very good games between all the teams. Basketball on all levels is represented well in this group. I’m excited to see how this round shapes up.
The next game is against the Fraport Skyliners. What do you remember from your ex teammate at Holy Cross Keith Simmons telling you when he played with Frankfurt?
I heard that Frankfurt is a beautiful city. He liked the organization and the fans. This will be a good trip for us. I like to explore every city that I travel to. I hope to see something very interesting in Frankfurt.
Do you still get pumped playing against big time point guards like ex Seton hall American Jordan Theodore that like you spent much time in New York city as he comes from across the river in New Jersey.
Yes I definitely get pumped up playing against a great guard like Jordan Theodore. He has the whole package and it’s great to see NYC or Tri-State guards playing professionally and doing well.
How key will the inside battle be between the two Polish big men Robert Witka and Michael Sokolowski against the Frankfurt twin towers Johannes Voigtmann and Danilo Barthel. How much of the game could be decided with these four players?
These are key match ups because all 4 played are key contributors in the game. I believe that it will rely heavily on the overall play of both teams.
You are only 178cm big. In what other areas of your game do you make up for your lack of height?
My heart makes up for my lack of height. If I’m 178cm big then my heart has to be most of that height lol I enjoy rebounding and getting down there with the big guys.
What is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away?
Basketball IQ is not seen right away but the ability to read plays on both ends of the floor really is a strength I take pride in.
With all the different teams that you have helped win games, how surprising is it for you that you are still looking for your first title?
Its tough because most leagues have a dominant team in their country that usually wins the championships. I have helped teams get back to their winning ways but my main objective is to win a title. I believe before my career is over I will do that.
In the two seasons 2012-2014 you played for 6 teams with two in Turkey and France and one in Serbia and Italy. Is it difficult to keep motivating yourself for a new team, country, culture etc after having to leave so often?
In this business you can’t always factor in something going wrong or why you have to leave a particular situation. So my love for the game of basketball keeps me motivated to go into another country, culture, and environment. I look at is as another opportunity to play the game that I love but also learn about a new culture that I normally wouldn’t have known about before I arrived.
In the 2001-2011 season you played with PGE Turow Zgorzelec with Germans Konrad Wysocki who studied at Princeton and Robert Tomaszek who once scared away a burglar in Germany. How do you remember these two fine men best in your memories?
Man first of all both great people and great teammates. We accomplished so much that season going all the way to the finals game 7 vs Asseco Prokom euroleague team. Rob was my enforcer and Konrad was always the voice of reason. I enjoyed playing with these guys.
What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Europe when you played for Kepez Bld Antalya, Akropol BBK (Sweden-Basketligan) and Etendard de Brest (France-ProB).
My wake up call was scoring my first basket and it was announced in another language. It was an amazing feeling but it was weird like wow I am actually playing professional basketball.
For a professional basketball player winning is most important, but stats don´t lie. You have been top assist man in Holland, scorer in Sweden and steals in Sweden, Holland, Russia, and Greece. Would you say you pride your game most on defense even if people might get blinded by your offensive strength?
Yes I definitely pride myself on being defensive first but I work continuously on my offensive skills so that I am not a one dimensional player. I want to be a complete point guard so that means leading my team first and foremost. After leadership it’s making sure I assist, rebound, steal, score and make other teammates have confidence in themselves to make big plays.
It has been more than 12 years ago where two young New York boys Keith Simmons and you arrived in Worcester on the campus of Holy Cross. It has been a long time, but when you look back what is your most cherished memory with him on and off the court?
Most cherished moment on the court with him was in 2007 winning the Patriot League Championship on our home court and giving him a big hug. It was special moment to get bid into the NCAA Tournament. Off the court we were roommates and we enjoyed each other’s company I’m very happy and proud of Keith’s success!
You have played against so many great players over the years, but which player was the toughest that you ever had to play against?
I would have to say Scottie Pippen back in 2008 in Akropol. He came to Sundsvall, Sweden and played against us and at 42 years old he still had everything. It was special to share the court with a legend.
What is the state of Lebron James in 2016? When it´s all said and done do you see him being greater than Michael Jordan?
Lebron James is the best all around basketball player in 2016 in my opinion. He’s been the best all around player for several years. I don’t see him being greater than Michael Jordan though. That’s okay because that’s why his name is Lebron James he will leave his own legacy when he’s done playing.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Creed which was an excellent movie.
Thanks Torey for the chat.