Senior forward garners honorable-mention recognition following stellar 2016-17 campaign
NEW ORLEANS – Since his arrival on the University of New Orleans campus, forward Erik Thomas has been called many things. Initially, he was labeled a junior college transfer and player to watch. Following a 2016-17 season which saw the Privateers claim the Southland Conference regular-season and tournament titles, Thomas earned the title of champion. Now, he can be called All-American as the 6-5 senior from Wesley Chapel, Fla., claimed honorable-mention recognition by the Associated Press on Wednesday morning.
The AP All-America title is the latest in a long list of awards Thomas has earned to date as he was previously named first-team National Association of Basketball Coaches All-Region 23, third-team College Sports Madness All-Mid Major, SLC Player of the Year, first-team all-conference and Southland Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Thomas becomes the 13th UNO men’s basketball student-athlete to claim All-America honors and the sixth to do so at the Division I level. He is also the fifth Privateer to claim Division I AP All-America honors, joining Ledell Eackles (1986-87), Ervin Johnson (1992-93), Hector Romero (2001-02) and Bo McCalebb (2006-07).
“For Erik to be recognized by the AP as an All-American is an incredible honor for him, his family and his teammates as well as our program and University,” UNO head coach Mark Slessinger said. “This recognition is incredibly rare and puts him in the company among some of the great players in the storied history of our program. Erik has worked so hard to develop his talents and skills to help move our team and program forward. He, along with his teammates, had a historical year for our program, University and city. I could not be happier for Erik and his family on receiving this incredible honor.”
In his final collegiate campaign, Thomas led New Orleans with 616 points, 19.3 points per game, 250 rebounds, 78 rebounds per game, 223 field goals, a 58.8 field goal percentage, 166 free throws, a 78.3 free throw percentage, 1,043 minutes played and 32.6 minutes per game. In addition, he ranked tied for second on the squad with 47 steals, fourth with 73 assists and 11 blocked shots, and tied for fourth with four 3-pointers.
Along the way, Thomas scored in double figures in all 32 games during the 2016-17 campaign with 15 20-plus point contests, including a career-high 31 after sinking 11-of-15 field goals and 9-of-10 free throws vs LaGrange on Nov. 11. He completed 11 point/rebound double-doubles to go with 18 multiple-assist, 17 multiple-steal and three multiple-block contests.
Thomas tied career-high marks with six assists against both Stephen F. Austin on Feb. 23 and Southeastern Louisiana on March 2, and four steals at Abilene Christian on Feb. 1. He also logged as season-best 13 rebounds vs Central Florida on Feb. 18 and added a pair of blocked shots vs Florida College on Nov. 25, vs Louisiana-Lafayette on Dec. 17 and against Southeastern Louisiana on Feb. 23.
The lone member of the Southland Conference and the only student-athlete from a Louisiana school to earn AP All-America recognition, Thomas was instrumental in the Privateers’ historic season which saw the team finish 20-12 overall, claim the Southland Conference regular-season crown with a 13-5 league record, win the SLC Tournament with a 68-65 overtime win against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and advance to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship for the first time since 1996.
· Frank Mason III, Kansas, 5-11, 190, senior, Petersburg, Va., 20.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 5.1 apg, 48.7 3-pt fg pct, 36.2 minutes (65 first-place votes, 325 points).
· Josh Hart, Villanova, 6-5½, 215, senior, Silver Spring, Md., 18.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.1 apg, 50.8 fg pct, 40.7 3-pt fg pct, 1.6 steals (62, 319).
· Caleb Swanigan, Purdue, 6-9, 250, sophomore, Fort Wayne, Ind., 18.5 ppg, 12.6 rpg, 2.9 apg, 53.4 fg pct, 43.1 3-pt fg pct (61, 308).
· Lonzo Ball, UCLA, 6-6, 190, freshman, Chino Hills, Calif., 14.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 7.9 apg, 54.4 fg pct, 41.0 3-pt fg pct, 2.0 steals (54, 296).
· Justin Jackson, North Carolina, 6-8, 210, junior, Tomball, Texas, 18.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.7 apg (24, 223).
· Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga, 6-3, 195, junior, Happy Valley, Ore., 16.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.8 apg, 52.1 fg pct, 91.0 ft pct, 1.8 steals (13, 191).
· Luke Kennard, Duke, 6-6, 202, sophomore, Franklin, Ohio, 20.1 ppg, 5.3 pg, 2.5 apg, 44.3 3-pt fg pct, 84.9 ft pct (10, 189).
· Malik Monk, Kentucky, 6-3, 200, freshman, Lepanto, Ark., 20.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.4 apg, 40.3 3-pt fg pct (7, 165).
· Dillon Brooks, Oregon, 6-7, 225, junior, Mississauga, Ontario, 16.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.7 apg, 51.3 fg pct, 41.4 3-pt fg pct, 1.2 steals, 24.0 minutes (15, 152).
· Johnathan Motley, Baylor, 6-10, 230, junior, Houston, 17.3 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 2.4 apg, 51.7 fg pct (4, 143).
· Josh Jackson, Kansas, 6-8, 207, freshman, Detroit, 16.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.1 apg, 51.1 fg pct, 1.1 blocks, 1.7 steals (1, 96).
· Markelle Fultz, Washington, 6-4, 195, freshman, Upper Marlboro, Md., 23.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 5.9 apg, 41.3 3-pt fg pct, 1.6 steals, 1.2 blocks, 35.7 minutes (3, 74).
· Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame, 6-5, 225, junior, New Bedford, Mass., 17.5 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 52.3 fg pct, 1.4 blocks, 1.1 steals (1, 70).
· Ethan Happ, Wisconsin, 6-10, 232, sophomore, Milan, Ill., 13.9 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.8 apg, 58.2 fg pct, 1.1 blocks, 1.9 steals (1, 66).
· Lauri Markkanen, Arizona, 7-0, 230, freshman, Jyvaskyla, Finland, 15.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 43.2 3-pt fg pct, 82.4 ft pct (1, 50).
Honorable Mention (in alphabetical order)
Ian Baker, New Mexico State; Trae Bell-Haynes, Vermont; Evan Bradds, Belmont; Gian Clavell, Colorado State; T.J. Cline, Richmond; Patrick Cole, N.C. Central; Mike Daum, South Dakota State; Angel Delgado, Seton Hall; Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State; Nana Foulland, Bucknell; De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky; Jerome Frink, LIU Brooklyn; Kevin Hervey, Texas-Arlington; Isaiah Johnson, Akron; Keon Johnson, Winthrop; Peter Jok, Iowa; Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga; Marcus Keene, Central Michigan; Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s; TJ Leaf, UCLA; Paris Lee, Illinois State; Zach Lofton, Texas Southern; Donovan Mitchell, Louisville; Dallas Moore, North Florida; Monte Morris, Iowa State; Luke Nelson, UC Irvine; Semi Ojeleye, SMU; Alec Peters, Valparaiso; Justin Robinson, Monmouth; Devin Sibley, Furman; Dennis Smith Jr., N.C. State; Erik Thomas, New Orleans; Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina; Melo Trimble, Maryland; Spencer Weisz, Princeton; Jacob Wiley, Eastern Washington; JaCorey Williams, Middle Tennessee; T.J. Williams, Northeastern.