For Jevon Thomas, the day has finally arrived.
After spending the past year on campus but separate from the Kansas State basketball team due to NCAA eligibility rules, the freshman point guard is in line to play his first game in a Wildcat uniform Saturday against Tulane in New York’s Barclays Center.
“I’m just happy to be here,” Thomas said. “I think if my first game had happened back in November, I would be more nervous. I have just had to wait so long for my chance, I’m just happy that it’s finally here.”
It is uncertain how much Thomas will be able to contribute right away. He began practicing with his K-State teammates earlier this week and has never played in a college game. Wildcat coach Bruce Weber has said he has to earn his playing time in practice.
He figures to be purely a sub at first. But he has potential.
His teammates refer to him as their “true point guard,” and expect him to enter the starting lineup at some point, allowing Will Spradling, who has been playing point guard, to slide back to his more natural position of shooting guard.
Thomas brings speed and defensive capabilities to the court others can’t.
“I’m a pass-first point guard who is very aggressive on defense and willing to do anything to win,” Thomas said. “I like to have fun on the court. You got to have fun when you are out there. That’s the one thing I think I got back when I was away from the game, to have fun when I’m out there. I just realized how short it can be. You never know how much you love something until it is taken away from you.”
Still, being away from his teammates was difficult.
Weber urged players to spend as much time as possible with Thomas while he was ineligible, and even ended practices early on occasion so they could play pickup games with him. But practicing on his own had its challenges.
“It was a tough time, because there was no one else there to push me,” Thomas said. “But I had to stick with it.”
The whole time, he kept his focus on Saturday, a game that will be played near his family in New York.
If he had to wait this long to play, this was a good game to wait for.
But he’s more excited about changing his focus to helping K-State win games.
“I feel I can be an impact on the game regardless of the amount of minutes I play,” Thomas said. “I will give it some time, but I’m a quick learner.”