When Coppin State had some of its greatest basketball teams under legendary head coach Ron “Fang” Mitchell, the Eagles had several terrific players from Philadelphia. These players include Larry and Stephen Stewart (brothers), Antoine Brockington, Phil Booth, Tywain McKee and others.
Koby Thomas, an Imhotep Charter product, is continuing the Philly basketball tradition at Coppin State. Thomas, a 6-foot-6, 190-pound senior guard, has put together a great season averaging 12.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. His efforts have helped Coppin State (9-12 overall, 8-4 league) clinch a share of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Northern Division title with Norfolk State for the first time since the 2003-04 season. He credits the Eagles’ coaching staff for a good part of his success.
“Honestly, it’s just fun playing down here,” Thomas said. “The coaching staff down here let you be yourself. They help you get better. I could see relationship with the Philly connection. It’s a hard nose coaching staff. They want to compete as hard as they can.”
Juan Dixon, Coppin State head basketball coach, has been very impressed with the overall of the contributions from Thomas this season. Dixon feels talents have helped the Eagles climb to the top of the division.
“Kobe has been huge,” Dixon said. “Koby is a kid we got two years ago. We felt like he would be a big part of the direction of our program as far as being able to perform at a high level on both ends of the floor. Koby’s length and athleticism gives him an opportunity to be an elite defender.
“For the last two years, I’ve been stressing to Kobe that he can have a lot of success with the game of basketball predicated on what he can do on the defensive end alone. I’m so proud of his growth not just on the floor, but off the floor.”
Thomas started his first two seasons of his college career at Robert Morris prior to transferring to Coppin State. He has eclipsed the 1,000-poit mark for his career, which includes his first two years at Robert Morris. Thomas has the ability to score, but is also a great defender. Defense is a big part of his game.
“My role is pretty simple,” Thomas said. “I just try to be a vocal leader and lead by defense if anything. That’s what is helping us win. We got a defensive team. It’s just easy. We got a lot of talented guys on our team.
“I just try to play defense. I usually try to guard the best player on the [other] team every game. I just try to shut down my opponent on defense. I just blend in offense and let the game come to me.”
Thomas is looking forward to competing in the MEAC Basketball Tournament, which will be held at the Norfolk Scope Arena in Norfolk, Va. from March 10-14. If Coppin State can win the tournament, they will get a chance to play in the NCAA tournament.
“We haven’t played our best basketball at all yet,” Thomas said. “We’re a great defensive team. We’re a great team overall. I’m really confident in my guys.”
Thomas will be a player to watch for Coppin State in the conference tournament.