CANMORE, Alta. — Across the entire NCAA, senior Zach Thomas has been one of the nation’s top players through the first two weeks of the season.
Despite a slow start out of the gate for the Bucknell Bison, who have one of the toughest non-conference slates of any team in the country, Thomas has been a star from game one. He’s been a star over his career with the Bison, but has flown under the radar for the majority of his tenure at Bucknell.
Thomas has averaged double-digit points per game in every year since his sophomore season. He posted 7.5 points per game as a freshman, and has improved with each passing year. This season is no different, as Thomas is on pace for a career year in scoring, rebounding, blocks, and three point shooting through seven games.
Entering the week, the Bison were 0-4. Thomas had a pair of double-doubles to his name, and had recorded at least 17 points in all four games to start the season. With three games on tap this past week, Thomas and the Bison were looking to get back on the right track.
Behind stellar efforts from Thomas, the Bison completed a perfect 3-0 week, and are showing why they were projected as the runaway favourites in the Patriot League this season.
For his efforts this past week, a stretch of three games that saw him post his third double-double of the season and average better than 28 points per game, Bucknell forward Zach Thomas has been named the College Court Report Player of the Week for November 20-26, 2017!
Through the first four games for the Bison, Thomas posted back-to-back double-doubles to open the season, and he averaged 23.3 points despite Bucknell losing four straight.
This past week, the Bison reversed their fortunes, and are now one game back of the .500 mark for the season.
Up first, the Bison took on the Siena Saints, another team who had been struggling out of the gate in 2017-18. It was also Bucknell’s home opener, and the Bison put on quite the show for their hometown fans.
Bucknell posted a pair of 50+ halves, and they scored a 115-92 win over the Saints to notch their first win of 2017-18 in front of their home crowd. Thomas scored a game-high 25 points to lead the way for the Bison, doing most of his damage from the free throw line.
Against Siena, Thomas was 3-of-6 from the floor, and 19-of-22 from the free throw line in the victory. He also added seven rebounds and two assists for a strong performance on Monday.
It was a sign of things to come over the week.
Two nights later, the Bison welcomed the Ball State Cardinals to town in another match-up of teams who are expected to contend for their respective conference titles, but were off to a slow start for the year. Thomas and company wanted to build off their win on Monday, and while the game was much closer, the home side came away with the win.
In Bucknell’s 87-83, come-from-behind win, Thomas posted a game-high 22 points, with most of his production coming from the free throw line once again. He was 12-of-14 from the free throw line, and 5-of-14 from the floor. Thomas pulled down eight rebounds on the night.
With two wins under their belts, the Bison entered Sunday’s road contest against the Stony Brook Seawolves with a ton of momentum behind them. They were looking to complete a perfect 3-0 week, and inch closer to the .500 mark for the season in the process.
Thomas recorded his third double-double of the season on Sunday afternoon, posting a season-high 38 points to go along with 11 rebounds and seven assists to lead the Bison past the Seawolves, 85-76. The game was in conjunction with the PK80 Invitational event.
For the week, Thomas averaged a cool 28.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game, while shooting a combined 18-of-37 (48.7%) from the floor. He now has six games this season with 20 or more points, and he recorded 30+ in a pair of those games.
Over his three-plus career in the NCAA, Thomas has been one of the most underrated players in the country. He consistently puts up impressive numbers, but doesn’t get the national media attention he deserves.
On a talented Bucknell roster in 2017-18, Thomas is what makes everything move in harmony. He’s effective on both ends of the floor, whether it’s taking a leading role in terms of scoring or on the glass. Bucknell has had four of the last seven Patriot League Player of the Year recipients, with center Nana Foulland taking home the award last season. This year, it looks as though Thomas is well on his way to making it back-to-back years for the Bison.
For his efforts over the past seven days, a stretch that saw him score at least 22 points in all three games and lead the Bison to a three-game winning streak, senior forward Zach Thomas is the College Court Report Player of the Week for November 20-26, 2017!
– T. Bennett
Nov. 13 – 19, 2017: Femi Olujobi, North Carolina A&T Aggies
Nov. 10 – 12, 2017: Geno Crandall, North Dakota Fighting Hawks
**College Court Report Player of the Week recipients are selected from teams in the following conferences:
America East, Atlantic Sun, Atlantic 10, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Conference USA, Horizon League, Ivy League, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot League, Southern, Southland, Summit League, SWAC, Sun Belt, West Coast, and WAC