MISSOULA — Dischon Thomas stands out on the basketball court as a towering 6-foot-9 figure who can rain down shots from beyond the arc.
In his second season with the Montana Grizzlies, Thomas has used that to his advantage once again, but in a more comfortable role now that he's gotten used to his time at UM.
"Just confidence within myself and just talking to guys, talking to coaches, just picking their brains and just how to what little things I could do to just get better," Thomas said. "Just talking to teammates, talking to coaches and just finding anything, just whatever it is, no matter how small it is, whatever the task is just trying to get better every day."
Thomas grew up in a basketball world having been raised in Durham, North Carolina, where basketball is king, and the Duke-North Carolina rivalry was front and center.
College basketball was always the goal, and he adapted his game even as his body and frame changed over time.
"When I was younger, my dad did a great job of just, we didn't know how tall I was gonna get," Thomas explained. "So he did a great job of just teaching me a bunch of different skills. And at one point in my career I actually was a guard. And then I had a tremendous growth spurt. So then I had to end up posting up so I kind of had the skills already. And then I had to relearn how to post up and all that. So just combining everything I learned from being a guard in my past kind of helped."
After playing high school basketball in Arizona, Thomas realized his college basketball dream by spending three seasons at Colorado State where he played in 91 games, but joined up with UM last year after a previous relationship with UM's coaches through his initial recruiting process.
Right out of the gates, Thomas looked to as a focal point for the Grizzlies, a role he'd never experienced before, so the learning curve was steep.
"Just a lot more responsibility with just leading guys, talking and just having to come with it every day, just if I'm going to be a focal point comes a lot more responsibility that I wasn't accustomed to," Thomas said. "I'm not going to lie it was a little hard at first. Trying to stay consistent was the biggest thing for me, just trying to stay as consistent as possible."
As last season went on, the comfort began to settle in, and this year, Thomas has picked where he left off and some, with career highs nearly all across his stat line. This season, Thomas is second on the team in scoring at 11.6 points per game and is shooting at a 47.3% clip from the field and 43.9% rate from 3-point range. He's also averaging 5.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game and has racked up 17 blocks this season.
"It definitely helped being here last year," Thomas said. "And then just coming in, I just flowed right into it. I knew exactly what was needed. And I was real comfortable coming in. And I was just talking to coaches, we made it clear what was needed to be done to win. So just trying to do my best that I can."
He's soaking up his final season of college basketball, as the Grizzlies aim to get back on top of the Big Sky Conference.
"Just playing all these teams across the country has been a blessing," Thomas said. "It's been cool to just to grow up watching a bunch of teams that I never would have thought I'd play against when I grew up. So just just trying to just take every step at a time and just get better and then go out and just play in the moment.
"It's meant a lot, college. Looking back on all the years of college has been great. And just taking one step at a time, enjoying the moment and just trying to finish strong."