Hard work, toughness pay off for Ohlone's Chereese Thomas - Article, 2011-2012 Ohlone Renegades Women's Basketball
By Matt Schwab, Contra Costa Times.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.
Chereese Thomas had a moment she truly deserved at Ohlone College.
After two brilliant seasons as a point guard with the Renegades, the former Dublin High star was honored at a signing ceremony on April 11 when she inked with San Jose State.
Friends, family and coaches extolled her virtues as Thomas' No. 23 Ohlone jersey was displayed. One of her grandmothers, Bunny Nua, traveled all the way from Las Vegas to attend.
"Chereese is probably the hardest working kid that I've been around," Ohlone coach Julia Allender said last week. "She's the epitome of the type of kid I want to coach. Unbelievable work ethic. Unbelievably driven. There's not a tougher 19-year-old that I've been around."
Thomas, who plans to major in communications, said she picked San Jose State because of its close proximity to home, and the "really good vibe" she picked up from the Spartans' coaching staff.
"It feels good," Thomas said. "Overall, I'm just really excited to play on a new team and start something different."
Thomas averaged 14 points, 4.8 assists and 7.5 rebounds a game last season, earning accolades as Northern California Player of the Year, Coast Conference MVP and first-team All-State.
San Jose State coach Tim La Kose, who guided the improved Spartans to a 10-19 record in the 2011-12 season, is looking for quality players/people to take his program the next level. He believes Thomas fits the bill.
Count Dublin High girls coach Mark Wainwright as a charter member of the Thomas fan club.
"She's one of the toughest kids to ever come through here, and we've had a lot of tough kids," Wainwright said. "She was hell on wheels on the basketball court -- a great, great defender, great leader and a great teammate. She's got it figured out."
Thomas was a four-time all-Diablo Foothill Athletic League selection at Dublin, including three times on the first team. Moreover, the team, known for its tenacious style, was like an extended family to the players.
"Our families were close," Thomas said. "Our parents were friends. Teammates were friends with each other. We played on teams together outside of school, so it was like my comfort zone. Coming to Ohlone was outside my comfort zone."
A few slices of Dublin joined Thomas at Ohlone. Former Gael Alexous Robinson was a Renegade standout in 2010-11, and Nikki Beckman, who signed with Cal State Monterey Bay in December, played guard at Ohlone last season.
The Renegades (24-6) were unbeaten champions of the Coast Conference-South Division last season, earning their fourth consecutive division title. And it was Thomas who drove the show. She transformed herself into a point guard in college who could penetrate, dish and shoot effectively.
"My go-to thing is I'm a really hard worker. I work hard no matter what," Thomas said. "I'm very aggressive."
Both Allender and Wainwright expect the 5-foot-8 Thomas to keep on thriving with the Spartans.
"She has a high ceiling," Allender said. "She doesn't know know what failure is. It's not within her vocabulary."
Contact Matt Schwab at email@example.com.
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