Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007 at 1:51 pm  |  31 responses

A blast from SLAM’s past

We knew Holy Cross star Torey Thomas when…

By Ben Osborne

One thing I like about having a column on the site is that it’s going to let me cover players who we just don’t have room for in the magazine (especially with the mag’s new look…which you can check for on newsstands later this week!).

The first player I decided to get at is one whose history with SLAM is even longer than mine, which can’t be said about too many current college players. His name is Torey Thomas, and if you want the numerical description of him, check right here.

As you can see, he’s a damn good player, a do-everything guard who is a huge reason why Holy Cross seems poised to unseat Bucknell and win the Patriot League this season.

But Torey’s story goes much deeper than the numbers. When Torey was 11, he was part of a 10-13-year-old team that won the North American Youth Basketball National Championship, earning, among other things, a feature in SLAM that Russ Bengtson wrote. This was in issue 11, May of 1996, when I was in college. I probably bought the issue at a newsstand but this story didn’t register with me. Fast forward to 2005 and I meet a guy named Darryl Jenkins, who works with kids at a non-profit in Westchester County. Darryl wanted to bring some kids to our office, which he did last year. When he came he talked about how he coached this youth team that was in SLAM. Not only that, Darryl said, but one of his former players was now a star at Holy Cross.

So I looked up Torey (far left in front row), and sure enough he’d gone on to great things after being at SLAM. He started by passing on his local high school, White Plains, which has a great basketball program, to attend Trinity Catholic in Stamford, CT. “Going there worked out extremely well for me,” recalls Torey, who was very happy to relive the thrill of being in SLAM and all he’s done since when I got him on the phone last week. “I made a lot of sacrifice, making a long commute every day and having to answer all my friends questions about why I didn’t just stay at White Plains. But I had think I did the right thing—Trinity is a small school where I really focused on my studies and developed as a young adult.”

He also developed into a good enough lead guard to win Connecticut Player of the Year as a senior in 2003. Even with that performance, Trinity Catholic wasn’t exactly on every college coach’s must-watch list, and Torey is a short 5-11. As such, the college interest was somewhat lacking. “Hartford really wanted me, and I had some interest from Canisius and William & Mary, but there weren’t a lot of schools,” Torey says. “I guess there was a height bias. Plus, I played an up-tempo game that might have been more suited for a West Coast program, but they didn’t see me.”

Lucky for Torey—and Holy Cross—Crusaders’ coach Ralph Willard made a special trip down to Stamford to see Torey work out and offered him a scholarship on the spot. “I said yes because I appreciated him taking the time to come see me. Plus, this is a program with great tradition,” Torey explains.

It’s been almost four years in Worcester for Torey, and we’ll let him explain how well it’s gone. “Two 20-win seasons as a starting point guard, closing in on 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists, high on the all-time Patriot League leaderboard in assists and steals, part of a team that won an NIT game at Notre Dame in 2005. It’s been amazing.”

He’s also loved college and is on track to graduate this spring. All that’s missing from the resume, as Torey is quick to point out, is an NCAA Tournament birth. “And that’s what we’re working towards now,” he says. “We’re good enough to do it and we’re getting better. Just gotta finish out the season and do it in the playoffs, too.”

With the Patriot League season about one third over, Holy Cross is at 5-0, in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the post-season tourney (and thereby the favorite to win the league and get the automatic bid).

I know this much: on the strength of Torey’s history alone, I’ll be pulling for the Crusaders.

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  • abelp

    first!!!! bill simmons is gonna be real happy to read that…he does visit this site right???

  • http://slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Bill Simmons has dreams about this site. And Ben, other than the fact that you linked to the espn.com page on this kid as opposed to his player page on the HC website, I loved it.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Ryan: The player page on HC’s site doesn’t have this year’s stats, which is what I want people to see. For those too lazy to click over, check them out: 37.7 mpg, 12.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 4.8 apg, and 2.4 spg. Torey says he wants to keep playing ball, and I’ve got to believe there are plenty of teams overseas that would love to have him.
    Abelp: I’m gonna’ email BSG this link in about two minutes.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Wow…I barely remember that story.

  • http://slamonline.com Ryan Jones


  • He-man G-man

    i was 11 when this article came out and I remembering imagining myself making the mag one day…wow this really brings back some memories. I can honestly say I was fueled in my basketball career up until high school in the hopes of making the bible pages of SLAM. I have been reading this mag for half of my life and I hope staff relizes how important this mag is to a lot of people.

  • http://www.crossports.com SoS

    As an avid Holy Cross hoops fan, it is wonderful to read this about the wonderful student-athlete I have come to love watching in his four years as a Crusader.

    Quick Torey story, as reported by a media member attending an HC practice a couple of wekes ago: During practice, (HC coach) Ralph Willard was running an intense 5-on-5 game simulation and the losing five had to run sprints. Torey was on the winning team, but still got in line and ran the sprints with the other five guys. You just can’t teach that.

    Great work, Ben! Thanks for the great read!

  • jim casey

    Thanks for a great artcle on a terrific human being.Torey has a positive impact on all who get to know him.He will be sorely missed at Holy Cross,even more as a person than as a player,which is saying a lot.

  • jim casey

    ps–(to continue the moderation)TT goes for 1,000 points Friday night vs Lehigh at home at 9 on espnu–needs 5

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    He-man: we do realize the importance of the mag. Thanks for reading.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Jim and SoS: glad you enjoyed. And congrats to Torey as he approaches the 1000-point club…

  • Kimberly Graham

    I am truly overwhelmed with joy after reading this article and seeing how Torey as grown to be such an inspiration to many people who grew up in White Plains and elsewhere. His sister and I are really good friends, and I remember when Torey was born…In fact, I changed his pampers! (Sorry Torey, I had to mention it.)

    I moved from White Plains to Atlanta in 1995, Torey was 10 years old, but his sister and I stay in contact with each other, and she keeps me up-to-date with his accomplishments.

    Though we grew up in a poor, drug-infested neighborhood, it’s truly a blessing to see someone beat the odds and become such a great success story. WE ARE ALL EXTREMELY PROUD OF YOU TOREY!

    Thank you, Ben, for featuring Torey, and his amazing accomplishments. Our community has lost a great number of young people — tragically — due to nonsense, so this story feels good and hit home in a great way!

    Let’s go Crusaders!


    torey thomas is the best point guard in the ncaa

  • Tammy Thomas

    I would like to thank Darryl and Ben for recognizing my brother’s talent. There are people that we grew up with who HAD an opportunity to keep playing basketball but chose to do other things and they are player hating on him. We ignore ALL that though. Thank you very much. Torey is a very sincere, humble and noble brother ans I thank GOD for having him in our lives.

  • http://offthedribble.blogspot.com caputo

    Yeah, He’s a killer, especially now that that ball-hog Kevin Hamilton graduated.



  • tony

    is this guy for reall

  • Ben

    Cool, I remember that story and pic…man, time is gone…

    Great work back then and right now!!!

    Please, never stop!!!

  • David

    This is all insane i mean i know this man personally and i must say i am extremey proud of hime keep doing u Torey and only good things will come.

  • Florence oel

    YEAAHHHH!!!! I have to cosign! This is WONDERFUL to see, Torey. God bless you and all things to come! PEACE!

  • Brandy

    OMG! Torey, Like I was telling Shana I am not surprised. I’m just waiting to see you in the NBA. I am sooooooooooooooooooo PROUD of you and what you have accomplished. Forget about the haters because that is what they will always be—HATERS!! Just don’t forget the little people who was there to push you around when you were just a scrub. Good luck and god bless ya.

  • lamont

    what up “stix” me and my mom are so proud of you! just keep up the good work and never look back! sorry i missed your graduation. you know i would hove been there if i didn’t have to work! just keep it up!

  • http://www.jeneigaleria.hu kisyeney

    Go Körmend Go!We’re waiting to Körmend!Red Devils!

  • Sean

    I just wanted to update this for any one wondering what Torey is up to. I have been playing with him in the summer since junior of HS and he is a great ball player and even better person. He just told me tuesday he was leaving for Hungry here is a link to an article about it in our home area paper. http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007710240384

    Much love torey, good luck overseas

  • JY #32

    Torey Thomas is one of the realest people I’ve ever met, and hes smart along with being talented. I played with him at hc and he got heart so I know wherever he goes with the ball playin hes gonna hold his down.

  • Sabo

    He plays in the swedish league right now, where he’s one of the best PG’s, personally I find him the best one.

    He had a monster game a few weeks ago, where he scored 39 points, 23 rebound and 11 assists.
    He averages 8 assist, and 22 ppg, i think!

  • Franki

    To people that want to know what Torey is doing now. He is killing in the Swedish league avg 25,3pts 8,1 reb 7,5 ass and 3,3 steals which puts him second in scoring, 11th in rebounds and first in the other two categories.

  • Fed

    im from sweden and torey is damn near averaging a triple double in the swedish league

  • http://www.sportstory.se/blogs/viewBlog.php?bid=2 Abe

    Check this about Torey Thomas, scroll down a bit.


  • Edwin

    Torey has just signed a one year deal with the Hanzevast Capitals, a first tier team from the dutch eredivisie.