Emporia State senior Hassan Thomas signed a professional contract with Sampaense Basket of Portugal Proliga this week. He is the first Hornet men’s basketball player to sign professionally since Terrence Moore signed with FOG Naestved in Denmark following the 2016 season.
“I’m very excited to get the opportunity to play professionally,” he said. “This has been something I’ve dreamt of since I was a child, so it is crazy to see my dream become reality. Portugal is a beautiful country, having a chance to live in Europe and play the game I love is amazing. The team and staff has been very welcoming, and are very excited as well.”
Thomas averaged 8.8 points and 5.2 rebounds for the Hornets as a senior in 2018-19. The 6-8 forward shot .351 from the three-point line, making 26 of 74 attempts from beyond the arc. He had a season high 30 points on 11 of 14 shooting against Bethel. He had 17 points and a season high 12 rebounds against Lindenwood. During one stretch in February he scored in double figures in seven of eight games.
“Hassan made huge progress throughout his two-year career at Emporia State which ultimately allowed him to earn a pro contract,” Emporia State head men’s basketball coach Craig Doty said. “Hassan proved to be an effective big inside the paint and behind the arc. It’s tough to find big men who are as athletic as Hassan and who also have range to 25 feet.”
Thomas averaged 8.0 points and 4.8 boards as a junior with a season high 16 points against Southwest Baptist and 12 rebounds against Drury.
“Attending Emporia State was a great decision for me,” Thomas said. “Not only did it allow me to receive a great education but also gave me a platform to showcase my talents in the MIAA, all while being a part of a school and community that always showed constant support. I also want to say thank you to my teammates, coaching staff, our athletic director Kent Weiser, and the rest of our great athletic department for helping me get to this point.”
He played in 28 games over two years at Illinois-Chicago before transferring to Emporia State. He was a first-team Class 5A All-State selection in Texas for Woodrow Wilson HS in Dallas.
“Hassan is an incredible person,” Doty said. “Our coaching staff is very proud of Hassan and we look forward to following him throughout his professional career and beyond.”
Thomas will leave for Portugal in August. Sampaense competes in the Proliga League, the second ranked basketball league in Portugal. They have a 28 game schedule that runs from October to April, with exhibition games starting in September. Sampaense has won three league titles and finished second twice in the 16 year history of the league. They were 13-15 last season.
Emporia State ended the season 14-16, 8-11 in the MIAA, an improvement of five wins overall from last season and double their conference wins. The 14 wins under Coach Craig Doty are tied for the second most by a first year Hornet coach. Their season ended with an 82-79 loss to No. 1 Northwest Missouri in the MIAA Tournament, the closest game for the national champion Bearcats during the post-season.