CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – Ian Thom has been around basketball courts since he was born, but the Croton High School junior guard can fill a highlight reel with his performances from plays made just the last two weeks of 2011.
Thom, a sharpshooting guard with long-range shooting and acute ball-handling skills, has helped lead the Tigers to a 6-1 record and two December tournament victories, one at last week’s Slam Dunk Tournament Boys Challenge and the other at the 32nd O’Neill Holiday Tournament where Croton won the title in the two–day event. The Tigers also took second place in their own William Mayclim tournament, losing their only game to unbeaten Dobbs Ferry.
“Playing in the County Center in the Slam Dunk gave the team a feeling of what it would be like to get there in the postseason. The tournaments helped because we had to win to advance to the championship game. Playing Dobbs Ferry gave us a chance to see one of the elite teams in Class B," Thom said. "It was a measuring stick to see what we need to work on to play with the top teams. O'Neill is the second best team in Class B in section 9, so it was great to play that kind of competition.”
Thom, who learned basketball at the knee of his father Bill Thom, the longtime coach of the Tigers, scored a team-high 15 points to lead the Tigers to a 53-24 victory over Yonkers in the Slam Dunk Challenge to win the Most Valuable Player award at the Westchester County Center, where the Tigers hope to return for the Section 1 playoff Final Four later this season.
Thom followed his County Center performance by winning a second straight MVP award, scoring 14 points in the opening-game win over Pine Bush, then a season-high 25 in the title game victory over O’Neill.
“At the end of last season we had meetings with the coaching staff to identify our strengths and weaknesses,” Thom said. “The players and coaches developed a plan to work towards November and the next season.”
As for his own development, Thom is working on all aspects of his game.
“The team has been working with Rob Baxter, the owner of BX Player Development in the areas of strength, agility, and basketball skills,” Thom said. “Rob was a point guard at Fordham University and owns a business in Binghamton and had a gym in Mamaroneck. We have been working with him for the past three years."
According to Thom, older brother Billy Thom, who is now the director of basketball operations at Davidson College, has also spent countless hours working with him on his skills.
“I also saw a nutritionist, Dr. Robert Silverman from White Plains,” Thom said. “We began working with him last April. He helped change my body type. I went from 18 percent body fat to about 12 percent. This really helped my quickness. In the off season I played AAU with the East Coast Panthers, where my dad and coach Lou DeMello ran the team. We were very focused on the defensive end and that was another area that we targeted coming out of the exit meeting from last year.”
Thom and the rest of the Tigers, led by Wes Turner, Aaron Thompson, Robert Simmons and Tyler Gilman, begin the meat of the season Wednesday at unbeaten Pleasantville (7-0) at 4:30 p.m. with hopes of revisiting the County Center for the Section 1 Final Four.