College of Charleston’s Anthony Thomas getting second chance with Cougars

College of Charleston's Anthony Thomas (3) slams it against Chattanooga Saturday afternoon. (Brad Nettles/postandcourier.com) 1/12/13 Buy this photo

Like many college basketball players, College of Charleston forward Anthony Thomas came out of high school with an impressive resume and a big reputation.

WHEN: 7 p.m.

WHERE: TD Arena

RADIO: WTMZ 910-AM

RECORDS: College of Charleston 14-7, 6-3 in SoCon; Appalachian State (8-11, 4-4).

NOTES: The Cougars are coming off their most impressive win of the season, a 79-50 road win over Wofford this past Saturday. .. Trent Wiedeman scored a season-high 17 points and pulled down nine rebounds. .. The Cougars shot 59.2 percent (29 of 49) from the field and 52.7 (10 of 17) from 3-point line against the Terriers. .. The Cougars hold a 17-12 advantage in the all-time series. .. The Mountaineers are coming off a 79-56 loss to Davidson. … Appalachian State defeated. College of Charleston, 93-81, in the first round of the SoCon.

Thomas was a star at Winston- Salem Prep and one of the elite high school players in North Carolina. But Thomas found the transition to college basket-ball more challenging than he expected. He committed to Appalachian State as a junior in high school and assumed success at the collegiate level was all but assured.

Reality turned out to be vastly different. Thomas had a forgettable freshman season at App State — the Cougars’ opponent tonight at TD Arena — playing in just eight games and averaging less than a basket a game.

“I thought I’d go to App and be one of their best players,” Thomas said. “I didn’t understand the kind of commitment it took to be successful.”

Instead of going to another Division I school and sitting out a season, Thomas decided he needed a fresh start and transferred 1,000 miles away from his home to Hutchinson Community College in Kansas.

The 6-7 forward started every game at Hutchinson, averaging 14.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.

“I learned a lot last season,” Thomas said. “I think going there was the best thing that could have happened for me.”

When Cougars coach Doug Wojcik signed Thomas, he wanted a wing player who could defend, rebound and chip in offensively. Thomas was not brought in to replace Antwaine Wiggins, the Cougars’ leading scorer a year ago.

Thomas is averaging 8.3 points and 4.8 rebounds. He also has 35 assists, 15 blocks and 14 steals.

“Anthony is certainly capable of scoring, but we wanted him to have a different role than Antwaine, who was mainly a scorer,” Wojcik said. “We needed him to defend on the perimeter, handle the ball some and play good defense. Anthony has embraced that role.”

Thomas said he’s approaching tonight’s game like any other on Charleston’s schedule.

“I don’t have anything to prove,” he said. “I have no hard feelings toward (ASU) coach (Jason) Capel. He gave me a great opportunity.”

Thomas isn’t the only Cougar with ties to Appalachian State or its head coach. Wojcik coached Capel for two seasons when he was an assistant coach at North Carolina. This isn’t the first matchup between the two coaches, who faced each other when App State played Wojcik’s Tulsa team in 2010.

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