Men’s basketball team inks GRCC transfer

Greg Monahan

After struggling mightily all season from the 3-point line, the Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team entered the offseason searching for a threat from behind the arc. After announcing the addition of junior college transfer James Thomas, they have addressed that need.

Thomas is a 6-foot-3 inch shooting guard from Grand Rapids and has spent the last two seasons playing junior college ball for Grand Rapids Community College. Last season, he averaged 21 points and shot 47 percent from the field for GRCC while averaging just more than seven rebounds a game.

The Lakers will welcome in his 3-point shooting ability, as last season the team shot 29 percent from the 3-point line. GVSU head coach Ric Wesley said Thomas, or “J.T.” as he is often called, should help everywhere on the floor.

“He’s a good all-around player,” Wesley said. “He handles the ball, passes it quite well, he’s a good rebounder for his size and he’s a good athlete who has the ability to defend on the perimeter. I feel like he can help us in a number of areas, but the No. 1 thing is his outside shooting.”

Thomas said considering the proximity and quality of the team, his decision to come to GVSU was relatively easy.

“I wanted to go to a winning program, first of all, and Grand Valley has to be one of the best DII programs around,” he said. “And I’m from Grand Rapids, so this is my hometown and all my family and friends will still be able to watch me play as if I was still in high school.”

Joining a team that averaged just 63 points per game last season, Thomas added he knows his main focus will be on the offensive side of the ball.

“I’m coming in to be a shooter,” he said. “Because that’s what Grand Valley has lacked in, their shooting and their 3-point percentage. So I’m coming in to hopefully get that shooting percentage up and get that ball in the basket for them.”

Though Thomas will play DII basketball for the first time, he is already familiar with some players on the GVSU team. In high school, he played against sophomore guard Wes Trammell, who is from Jenison.

Trammell said he is excited to have a pure shooter on the team and looks forward to seeing how Thomas’ ability will help the offense.

“I think he can stretch the defense, which will open up the lanes for a bunch of other guys,” he said. “It’ll make things so much easier because teams pack it in so much against us because we have so many drivers, so having another shooter makes everything easier.”

He also noted he hopes his past experience with Thomas as an opponent will help both players as teammates.

“I played against him all through high school and middle school, so I know his game and he knows mine,” he said. “So we’ll have some chemistry right off the bat, just because we’ve seen each other play. I think it’ll be an advantage.”

Thomas will start school at GVSU in the fall; basketball season starts in early November.

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