Miner legend Omar Thomas, who played for UTEP from 2003-05, averaged 18 points per game, and led the program to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, was named the Director of Basketball Operations at Southern Miss.  Thomas will work under former UTEP coach Doc Sadler, who currently is entering his fourth season as head coach of the Golden Eagles.

Sadler, who recruited OT from Panola Junior College in Carthage, Texas mentioned, "I've had the opportunity to hire a lot of assistant coaches and this hire is probably the most special one I've ever had.  I had the chance to coach Omar at UTEP, and I've never had a player that brings energy, passion and enthusiasm every day like he did."

After leaving UTEP in 2005, Thomas endured a brilliant 12 year professional basketball career overseas that included stops in Italy, Serbia, Russia, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Lebanon, Georgia and also played for the Austin Toros of the NBA Developmental League.  OT's numerous accomplishments included both an Italian League MVP in 2011, Serbian League Finals MVP in 2012,  Serbian League best scorer, Russian Cup champion in 2013, FIBA EuroChallenge champion in 2013 and Italian Cup champion in 2014.

Thomas, who was also the 2005 WAC Tournament MVP and received First-team All WAC  honors in 2005 said, "I'm grateful and thankful for Doc Sadler, we've had a great relationship and he trusted me as a player.  I'm happy to bring my experience of the last 12 years to help these younger kids fulfill their goals."

It will be interesting to see Thomas come back to El Paso on an annual basis to face UTEP with Southern Miss, as there is no doubt that he will receive a tremendous response from the fans who will recall how he helped lead the program back to the glory days of playing in NCAA Tournaments and being relevant in college basketball.   OT and I have been good friends since college as we had several communication classes together, and he mentioned how excited he is to be going on to the next phase of his career as an extended member of the Southern Miss coaching staff.

It's worth mentioning that Thomas approached Tim Floyd about joining his staff some time ago and was completely shot down, which boggles my mind.  Why wouldn't Floyd have wanted a Miner legend who is loved in El Paso, and has tremendous basketball knowledge and experience help mentor his team?  The move would have made all the sense in the world, and the fact that OT wanted to be here under Floyd speaks volumes.  It is understandable that Floyd has no affiliation with Thomas, but some times logic should come in to play and former players such as Greg Foster, are a great fit on the staff.

At his point though, it's Doc Sadler's gain and Floyd's loss, as I believe Omar will become a great coach due to his ability to relate to the players.  I would like to wish my buddy OT all the luck in the world with his new position, the future looks bright for the former UTEP great.

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