To prepare for the tip-off of another great year of college basketball, CHD is reaching out to coaches and players around the country to get the inside scoop on what we can expect this time around. Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with Florida State SG Aaron Thomas about leading his team in scoring and steals last year.
You received offers from several great programs like Cincinnati/Louisville/Ohio State. What made you pick the Seminoles? I like Coach Ham and the ACC and felt it would be a good place for me.
You play for Coach Leonard Hamilton, what makes him such a good coach, and what is the most important thing that you ever learned from him? He cares about us even if we did not play basketball and treats us like one of his own.
Your freshman year at FSU marked the fourth straight year that you had played at a different school (dating back to high school, prep school). What does it mean to you to finally have some consistency in your life in terms of staying at the same school for a few years? I went to my first three years of high school at the same school before transferring. I bounced around a bit after that so now that I am at a place where I feel comfortable both on and off the court it is great. I get all the help I need with school and can also focus on the upcoming season.
In April you had six rebounds before fouling out in a 3-point overtime loss to eventual champion Minnesota in the 2014 NIT semifinal. Where does that rank among the most devastating losses of your career, and what did you learn from that game that you think can help you this year? It was a real tough loss but a great game. What I learned is to not put so much pressure on myself and to play hard the entire game. I think it will help us as a team because we took the NIT seriously.
Last year you shot over 80% from the FT line. What is your secret for making FTs? I do not have any secret: I just shoot a lot of them in practice and stay focused when I step to the line.
You also led the team in both scoring and steals: how do you balance your offense with your defense? Once you play good defense the offense will fall into place. I try to get stops and lock down my opponent.
Your non-conference schedule includes games against Providence, UMass, Notre Dame, and Florida, which of these games do you feel will present your biggest test? There is no one specific game: all of them will be a test. They will all help us prepare for conference play.
Two of your top-3 scorers from last season have graduated (Ian Miller/Okaro White): how much pressure is there on you to be a leader this season? Those guys did a good job of leading us, and we only have 1 senior right now, but we are focused on the big picture of winning games and bringing another title to our school and making the NCAA tourney.
You already had some legendary coaches in the ACC like Jim Boeheim/Roy Williams/Mike Krzyzewski: how awesome is the conference going to be after adding 2 more legends in Danny Manning and Rick Pitino? It is going to be better than ever! They are all good coaches, but we are focused on ourselves right now.
What are your goals for the upcoming season, and what are your expectations for the upcoming season? My expectations for the team are for us to be on the same page and buy in. I do not have any individual goals: we have worked hard over the summer and I think we will shock a lot of people this year.