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John Thomas



The second oldest of the six famous basketball-playing Thomas brothers, John led Alexandria High and South Dakota State to championships. At Alexandria, Thomas was a two-time all-stater in football and basketball. He led the Beavers to state Class B basketball titles in 1963 and '65. He was the South Dakota High School Athlete of the Year for 1964. At SDSU, the 6-foot-5, 210-pound forward was all-North Central Conference in 1968 and '69, leading the Jackrabbits to the NCC title both seasons. He was co-MVP of the NCC as a senior. That season he averaged 16.5 points and 9.1 rebounds a game and shot 52.6 percent from the field. In his SDSU career, Thomas scored 1,178 points (the second most in school history at the time) and averaged 15.5 points a game (freshmen were not eligible). He and teammates Gene Zulk and Guy Mackner were inducted into the SDSU Hall of Fame in 1997. Thomas had a tryout with the NBA champion Boston Celtics. He was cut when the Celtics activated Jo Jo White. After being cut, he played throughout Europe and Asia with a traveling all-star team in 1969-70. He also played with the Meralco pro team that won the Philippines national championship in 1970. He was invited to try out with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1970 but declined because of illness. He assisted Mel Klein for nine seasons (1970-79) in building Augustana into an NCC power, then took over as head coach for three seasons (1980-83), posting a 42-39 record. As a player-coach, he organized and funded international basketball trips in 1972 and 1976. The 1972 team was 16-5 playing teams in France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, while the 1976 team was 18-15 versus teams in France, Belgium, Italy, Scandinavia and the Soviet Union. He also organized and funded the Augustana team's 1982 trip to Norway, Sweden and Finland

(Bottom photo is Alexandria HS team. John is No. 52)




















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