Mississippi State freshman guard Fred Thomas (1) takes a shot against South Carolina. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
Fred Thomas came to Mississippi State with the reputation of being a shooter.
The freshman struggled early in the season, but he has finally been able to find his shot.Â
Thomas was 6-of-12 from the field in Wednesday's 96-70 loss to Arkansas on the road. He made 2-of-5 3-pointers and led the team with 17 points.
Thomas has begun to take his role as shooter on the team seriously and has been putting in extra time, not matter what time it is.
"I've been coming back overnight getting shots up," Thomas said. "I'm taking it more seriously, so I've been coming back and getting more shots up. All my shots have been good shots and I just want to continue on."
Early in the season, Thomas struggled finding the bottom of the net, whether it be inside the 3-point arc or behind. In his last six games Thomas has made 27-of-61 field goals for 44 percent.Â
The extra practice has shown in Thomas' game. He likes to shoot the 3-ball, but has put most of his focus inside the 3-point line.
"I'd say like 200," Thomas said of the number of extra shots he shoots. "I'm working on my mid-rage. I'm not really working on my 3s. I'm really working on my mid-range, trying to get it right."
Thomas says he will be in the gym until 1 or 2 a.m.
"He is shooting better, but it is also a direct result of him coming in and getting some shots up of his own too," MSU head coach Rick Ray said. "I tell our guys it's not hard to figure out. When you come in and get some shots up on your own with a manager or a coach, you are going to shoot the ball better. When you don't do that, when you take time off and not find the time to come in and shoot, you don't shoot as well. It's a direct correlation."
Early in the season when Thomas was struggling making a basket, he didn't shy away from shooting the ball. That is something Ray has seen from his young guard.
"I don't know if anything much gets to Fred," Ray said. "He's a confident shooter, and he thinks every shot he takes is going to go in. You like that."
Thomas has shot the ball a team-high 183 times this season for the Bulldogs. Thomas has had to step up with the lack of numbers the Bulldogs are facing. Thomas has much to learn and Ray is using this time to teach him.
"You like the fact that a kid, playing his first year in major college basketball, has no fear," Ray said. "Fred definitely doesn't have any fear. He just continues at times to take shots that are bad shots, because they're contested 3s. His pull-up is so good. That's the thing you show him. He shot-fakes, takes two dribbles, he's so long, he rises up over people and he still takes a good shot."
The Bulldogs are going to need Thomas to step up and made some big shots today. The Bulldogs (7-10, 2-3) welcome the No. 7 (Associated Press) Florida Gators (15-2, 2-0) to Humphrey Coliseum tonight. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN2.
The Gators are led by senior guard Kenny Boynton who averages 13.3 points per game. Senior forward Erik Murphy and redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario average just over 12 points per contest.
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