By: Tom Ballato
Torey Thomas grew up in White Plains, New York. He attended and played high school basketball at Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford, Connecticut.
Thomas had to make sacrifices that would eventually earn him a scholarship to play Division I basketball at The College of Holy Cross. He commuted two and a half hours each day to high school. “I had to take a public bus from White Plains to Stamford, so it made stops in White Plains then got on I-95 to Stamford train station. Then I would take a shuttle across the city to get to Trinity. I felt like I was going to work every day with my shirt tie and blazer on,” Thomas said.
He attended Holy Cross and played for four years, where he was a floor general and terrific defender. Thomas was awarded the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year in 2007. He ranks second all-time at Holy Cross for steals with 268 and fifth in minutes played and assists.
After college, Thomas started playing professionally overseas, where he’s played for the past 13 years. He is also an entrepreneur, business owner, motivator, and author.
You played at Holy Cross from 2003-2007. How would you describe your time at Holy Cross?
Thomas: It was an amazing time. A lot of learning through those years. Many workouts and film sessions and big-time basketball. Even though we weren’t a big-time basketball school, it had a big-time basketball feel around campus, and we played in a big-time out of conference schedule.
You took over that Patriot League Championship game against Bucknell in 2007. What kind of emotions were going on during that game? Bucknell made a late comeback during that game.
Thomas: It was a highly emotional game, but I knew I had to play well and stay focused. All I thought about was winning! We had a trip to the NCAA tourney on the line, and I wanted my last game at Holy Cross to be memorable.
What were the feelings and emotions like making the NCAA Tournament your senior year? You guys lost in the first round, but to make it after four years, the atmosphere of that game had to be crazy.
Thomas: I couldn’t even explain making it because it was a life long dream. I grew up watching March Madness, so it was a dream come true. The atmosphere was insane. Police escorts to the practice and game. We definitely lost a tough game to a tough Southern Illinois team.
You’ve played professionally in Sweden, Venezuela, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, France, Italy, Greece, Cyrus, and Macedonia. Did I miss anywhere? What has that grind been like for you throughout your professional career?
Thomas: I also played a short stint in the Dominican Republic. This has been an unreal grind. I have played in mostly smaller cities and enjoyed learning about the culture and how things are done. I also played in a few bigger cities and got a chance to connect with fans and teammates from all over the world.
You’ve had success overseas. Winning championships and MVPs, but what has been your fondest memory from your professional career?
Thomas: The fondest memory was winning a championship in France 2018 with ADA Blois, but off the court, it was launching my brand in 2011 in Poland, http://gotorey.net.
Can you tell us about your brand?
Thomas: My brand started during the MVP season 2010-2011 in Poland, and a Polish web designer named Dariusz helped me launch it. It’s all about my lifestyle and helping out the youth. I have T-shirts, bags, hoodies, socks, etc. I have my own non-profit organization called GoTorey AllStars/ New York Blaze Athletic Club.
My Motto for myself is I Aspire to Inspire. Our Motto for the program is Life Skills Through Sport.
You played this past season in France. How was the season going before it was cut short?
Thomas: I was in France the season was going well we were in 2nd place before the season was cut short.
In 18 games this past season in France’s second division, Thomas averaged 6.1 points and 4.2 assists per game. He is currently a free-agent and exploring his options for the 2020-2021 season.
Thomas gives back to the community and is a role model for kids on and off the court.