WATCH NOW: Local Basketball – NBA Veteran Matt Thomas Returns Home for Annual Camp | Sport

For the fifth summer in a row, NBA player and Onalaska High School graduate Matt Thomas has taken a break from his professional basketball career to give back to his community.

Thomas organized a couple of two-day basketball camps in Viterbo on August 1 and 2 with a morning and afternoon session every day. With a few years of camps to his name, the former Hilltopper has honed his camp organizer skills.

“It’s always been pretty smooth. I’ve been to camps so many times as a kid that I had a layout, an idea of ​​how I wanted it to go,” said Thomas. “I also made some changes. In the first few years you find out what works, what doesn’t work, what can be improved.”

When he was a child, Thomas spent his summer attending basketball camps, writing that he instilled in him the passion and love for the game that prompted him to make a career out of it. Even at the time, he says he hoped he could one day organize a camp of his own.

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Once he had completed his study career, Thomas knew exactly where he wanted to organize that camp.

“A lot of people played a big part in the person I am today and it’s a small token of my appreciation to give back and hopefully inspire and influence some of these kids because I was in their shoes 15 years ago now. stood,” said Thomas.

In fact, Thomas has been organizing camps for so long that he says a parent showed him a photo of a knee-high freshman camper that is now in high school and almost as tall as Thomas himself.

It’s those kids that make Thomas come back every summer.

“As a kid, I didn’t have anyone close to me who had played in the NBA or had an experience like mine to look up to,” Thomas said. “It’s my obligation to some extent to be here, and I want to be here. That’s why we keep doing this.”

Last winter, Thomas concluded his third season in the NBA when he played 40 games for the Chicago Bulls playoff qualifier. Chicago is his third organization after previous stints at Toronto and Utah.

While Thomas admits he would rather have a long tenure with a single squad, he turns his various stops into important learning experiences that help him round out his game.

“For me every year is about trying to improve as a player, but also about learning. I’ve been in different situations every year,” said Thomas. “I think teams know what I bring out as a professional in terms of my game and my marksmanship … I know that I am willing and ready to continue to prove myself every year as I have been.”

With five years playing basketball across Europe and several teams in the NBA, Thomas believes it has also given him a more unique perspective as he hosts his home camp.

“I have been to many different places, in different cultures. Even the cases out of court, I’m trying to share what I can to help some of these guys,” Thomas said.

Andrew Tucker can be reached at or via Twitter @andrewjtucker16

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