A Cinderella Story for Corsair Basketball

Lucas Zeemen (#11) and the Santa Monica College Corsairs coaches Ben Doran, Devon Richardson, Joshua Thomas (Head coach) and Justin Maidenberg at the CCCAA Men's Basketball Championship (quarterfinals) playing the City College of San Francisco Rams at Ventura College on Thursday March 14, 2019. Final Score 67-63 for the Rams. Photo by Tanya Barcessat

Lucas Zeemen (#11) and the Santa Monica College Corsairs coaches Ben Doran, Devon Richardson, Joshua Thomas (Head coach) and Justin Maidenberg at the CCCAA Men's Basketball Championship (quarterfinals) playing the City College of San Francisco Rams at Ventura College on Thursday March 14, 2019. Final Score 67-63 for the Rams. Photo by Tanya Barcessat

“One day, the ball is going to stop bouncing.”

From a 3-22 record in 2018 to a 20-12 record with a Regional Finals championship and an appearance in the Elite 8, the Santa Monica College (SMC) men’s basketball team say goodbye to a season filled with joy, accomplishment, tears, and sweat. The Corsairs managed to jump back from a losing season of just three wins to an unprecedented run in the playoffs this season that culminated in a loss in the quarterfinals against College of San Francisco in the Elite 8 Tournament.

Head Coach, Joshua Thomas was at the helm of this success, “I never played college basketball, I never played varsity high school basketball and I’m a college head coach,” said Thomas. He began his coaching career at Riverside City College under Hall of Fame Coach John Smith. “I really didn’t have any coaching experience. As a matter of fact, I had zero… but somebody gave me a chance, somebody gave me the opportunity and through the years I was able to grow and mature as a coach.”

In just his second year at SMC, Thomas has turned this program around. “What led to our success is, honestly, one hundred percent the players, our staff…that’s really the big difference, we got players that really fit my needs. They go to class, they are responsible students, responsible citizens,” said Thomas.

Many players had incredible stats this season. Sophomore Marcus Harris (#24) was one of the leaders during the postseason. Harris put up 48 total points during their four postseason games, 20 of which he made against Riverside City College in the Regional Finals. Center, Kyle Young (#15) also made an impact this postseason, putting up 44 combined playoff points.

Thomas awaits the conclusion of the March Madness Tournament in the following weeks, which will allow Division I and II schools to begin recruiting talent from schools like SMC. “All of our sophomores will sign, Marcus Harris, Kyle Young, Lucas Zemen (#11), Jordan Wilson (#5) …teams’ seasons are ending, teams are starting to shift their focus to recruiting so we have been dealing with a lot of phone calls and even meetings with coaches.”

As his players prepare to continue their careers elsewhere, Thomas leaves them with words of motivation. “I always tell my students, ‘you guys are students first’, and you know, one day the ball is going to stop bouncing whether or not you choose to stop playing, or age, or health… I say the education is important. ... As long as you have that drive and you keep that motivation, I think anything is possible for anybody in this world, you can do anything that you want, you can be anything you want… if I could do it, these young men can do way more.”