By Richard Pryor III
Basketball is a flashy sport. We are captivated by LeBron James’s all-around leadership, Steph Curry’s unnatural ability at getting in three-pointers, and almost everyone’s stylish dunks. Unlike most other places, Sewanee’s men basketball played their way to second in the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) by highlighting the fundamentals.
When head coach Tom Pierson resigned last April to become head coach at the Darlington School, the obvious choice to replace him was his assistant coach, Mick Hedgepeth. Officially hired in May, Hedgepeth had the challenge of replacing seniors Jorden Williams, Brody Stone, Clay Born, and Leo Born, who combined for over half of Sewanee’s points in the 2016-17 season. However, there was a clear candidate to replace them as a team leader – Adrian Thomas (C’20). As a freshman, Thomas played in all 27 games and started 10, averaging around 18 minutes each game. He ended the season with 8.7 points per game (PPG), 4.1 rebounds per game (RPG), and 0.7 assists per game (APG). This season, the sophomore guard hailing from Chattanooga, Tennessee, improved his stats to 18.4 PPG, 9.6 RPG, and 1.7 APG, leading the team in both rebounds and points. He played and started in all 25 games. Thomas also led the SAA in rebounds and was second in points. For this and his leadership of the Tigers to the second spot in the SAA, Thomas was named Player of the Year as well as being named to the All-SAA First Team. All of this was a result of Hedgepeth giving Thomas more playing time as well as, according to David Johnson (C’19) “emphasizing the fundamentals” being the main difference between Hedgepeth and Pierson.
Thomas, also known as “Fudge” or “AT,” is also beloved by his teammates. Johnson, a fellow guard, informed The Sewanee Purple that Thomas is “very efficient” and loves to get his teammates involved in the game. Johnson believes Thomas is not only deserving of Player of the Year, but will be the core for the team for the rest of his Sewanee career.