Last time April Thomas took the floor under the beamy P.E. Complex lights, she stunned spectators by dropping 27 points during a sensational performance that grabbed the attention of many, especially her new team.
The former Albany State star made an unforeseen decision this past summer to transfer to rival South Region school, Valdosta State, which continues to be both equally supported and chastised.
The Bainbridge native says that her fondness for red and black didn’t happen overnight, in fact, her bottled yearning for VSU has been alive since as long as she can remember.
‘AP’ as her friends call her, credits that love and the chance of national exposure the main reasoning behind her departure. “Honestly I’ve just always wanted to come here after high school,” the All-SIAC selectee said. “[VSU] was that school that really had my attention and theres a lot of great players here. I’m just happy to be a part of a team with so much talent.”
The daughter of Sharlyn Smith and Lawrence Thomas, began assembling her arsenal on a dilapidated, cracked basketball court outside of her grandmother’s house at six years old.
Thomas began playing basketball competitively in the sixth grade at West Bainbridge Middle School. She has started every game since.
After arriving at Bainbridge High School, she soon found fulfillment testing her limits and participated in cross country, field and track, softball and soccer.
The 2010-2011 BHS female senior athlete of the year also led the Lady Cats basketball team to a 21-7 record and a Region 1-AAAA Sub-Region championship.
VSU did recruit Thomas, however, didn’t feel that a player of her 5’1 stature would be versatile enough to earn a scholarship.
The time came for Thomas to make a choice where she would be suiting up next: she chose ASU over Fort Valley, Savannah State, and FAMU.
He claims Thomas was the purest scorer he’s had under his 23 year tenure.
Thomas admits her and Skinner’s relationship still is cordial but undeniably altered.
“I have no doubt in my mind that he’s upset about the situation,” the junior transfer said. “We still have a strong relationship. I talked to him when he came over here when they played us in volleyball. He hugged me and everything. We had a nice conversation.”
Skinner’s heart is one of many broken following her startling decision.“I was really upset with myself for hurting him like that then, on top of that, having these other people like ‘why are you leaving?’ or ‘what’s so different from here and over there?’,” Thomas said. “The only person that knows what’s going to happen is God. My dad always told me before you make a decision, pray to him because he won’t lead you down the wrong path.”
Returning Blazer starting guard Kourtnee Williams originally introduced Thomas to her former coach Skinner.The two sparked an instant friendship in high school after competing against each other in an All-Star game together.Now reconnecting with her pal in the backcourt, Thomas arrives to VSU truly qualified for her new mission.