EA senior forward Zack Thomas named AISA Player of the Year
Published 6:24 am Friday, April 1, 2005
By By Tim Cottrell
Thousands of basketball players across the nation go through entire careers, some even spanning to the professional level, without championships or individual awards.
Zack Thomas achieved both in about 14 months.
The departing Escambia Academy senior forward was named the Alabama Independent School Association (AISA) Player of the Year in all classifications by the Alabama Sports Writers Association at a Thursday banquet held in Birmingham.
"It felt pretty good," Thomas said Monday while riding around during his Spring Break. "I was pretty happy to get it. It's been a goal of mine because it's one of the best individual awards someone can get."
Escambia Academy coach Jason Allen, who has led the Cougars for one year, said he was very happy for Zack.
"I was very excited," Allen said. "I've never had a player win player of the year. It's a big honor; a huge honor, actually."
Fellow departing Cougar senior Josh Montel, who was with Thomas Monday, said his teammate deserved the award.
"He's just a great player, a great all-around player," Montel said. "He scores a lot of points, but he doesn't take too many shots. He looks to pass before he looks to shoot. He just makes everyone else better."
The Cougars, who won the state championship last year under former coach Chad Prewett, fell in the semifinals of the state tournament to eventual state champion Jefferson Christian Academy. Thomas said the award eased some of the pain of not going all the way.
"It makes it a little better," Thomas said. "The award is nice, but I definitely would have rather won a championship."
Montel, a fierce competitor, said that Thomas hates losing.
"We both hate losing," Montel said. "He cares a little bit more about basketball, but I just care about winning. He likes to win too, though."
Thomas also passed around plenty of credit for his achievements.
"A lot of people have helped me along the way; all my teammates, Coach Prewett, Coach Gibson, and Coach Hall (JV basketball coach)," he said.
Montel, who came to EA two years ago, said he and Thomas have built a strong friendship.
"We're good friends," he said. "We're almost always together."
Thomas also gave Montel the credit.
"I couldn't have done any of this without Josh," he said, at Montel's urging.
Thomas had many career highlights to reflect on.
"One of the best was passing 1,000 points for my career," he said. "Also breaking the school record for points (in a game, scoring 46 points against Jackson Academy), and of course winning the state championship last year."
Allen said he would miss Thomas's play and leadership.
"It's hard to replace a player like Zack," Allen said. "That award pretty much tells you that. He can play with anybody."