Brandon Thomas looks to leave a legacy at Valley

Published 9:06 am Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Legacy is not a word you hear thrown around much for high school athletes. High school is usually just a proving ground for future stars. Valley basketball has several impactful players, but Brandon Thomas is looking to leave a long-lasting legacy of his own. 

Thomas joined the 1,000-point club on Dec. 13 against Tallassee. He and Cam Dooley are the only players currently on the team to reach that mark. 

Thomas saw Dooley and other athletes reach the mark before him, and he worked to be a part of that exclusive club. 

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“I’ve been trying to get there since [the] eighth or ninth grade,” Thomas said. “When I was coming, there was a dude named Quez Trammell. I played varsity with him. He got to the 1,000-point club. He strived [for] me to get there. He told me ‘You’re going to be next up’. I believed and I put in hard work. Cam Dooley got there too, and I was like, I’m next.” 

Quickly after Thomas reached 1,000 points, the Rams traveled to face Auburn High School on the road. The Rams’ 41-game win streak was snapped against the Tigers. The next day, Thomas and the Rams trounced Troup County 81-55. 

“It was like a punch in the mouth,” Thomas said. “We still have a chip on our shoulders no matter what. I feel like it was a lesson learned. We had a lot of motivation. Even before we were going to the gym, everybody was like, ‘I feel bad for whoever we’re playing tomorrow.’”

The offers to play basketball at the next level have started to pile up for Thomas. Thomas recently received an offer from Marion Military Institute, marking his sixth collegiate offer. 

For Thomas, the final decision on where he wants to play basketball in college comes down to the coaching and the development staff’s ability to get him to the next level. 

In the loss to Auburn, Thomas hit a three that drew the Rams within one possession with less than 45 seconds left in overtime. Without a doubt, whichever school lands Thomas will be getting a big-time shot maker. Thomas has never shied away from having the ball in his hands during crucial moments. 

“I have a lot of confidence because I have been in bigger and better games than just a regular season game,” Thomas said. “I’ve had a lot of under-pressure moments. It’s still a tough shot. If you miss there’s a lot of things that can be said. I’m not really under pressure anymore just because of the run we made last year.” 

Every team this season is going to give the Rams their best shot after Valley won the state title last season. Some players would shy away from the target on their backs, but Thomas revels in it and wants to prove himself each game. 

“Don’t play down to anybody’s level,” Thomas said. “We’ve got to play every game like it’s a championship game.”

Thomas is known for his highlight reel finishes above the rim for the Rams, but he believes several other attributes are more important to his overall game. Thomas excels as a defender and rebounder, and his offensive rebounding has lifted Valley on nights when the shots were not falling. 

Thomas’ dominance on the offensive glass, along with Dooley, has led to the rest of the Rams playing freely on the perimeter. 

“They just believe in us,” Thomas said. “They believe that we can get rebounds and they can just go out and we’ll give it to them.” 

Thomas is one of the most dominant basketball players in the state, but he has not finished improving. Free-throw shooting has been a struggle for Thomas, though it’s not because of lack of effort. 

Coach Marshon Harper makes every player make 25 free throws at the end of the practice, but Thomas continues shooting his even after the 25 makes. Still, Thomas believes free throws are more difficult than most fans believe. 

“The concentration,” Thomas said about free throws. “If somebody guarded me, I could make a shot before I shoot a wide-open shot. If I’m so open to where nobody is guarding me, I got to take my time and actually make it.”
The current senior class for the Rams has done some things that most athletes could never dream of. Alongside that group, Thomas hopes to be remembered as one of the best to come from Valley. 

“We’ve been special,” Thomas said. “I want to be remembered as a leader and a role model. I like reading to little kids, I like motivating little kids.”