For Tampa Catholic point guard Thomas Dziagwa the game of basketball is more than just numbers.
Dziagwa is on his way to Oklahoma State after a very successful senior season that ended in a loss in the Class 4A state semifinal against Jacksonville Bolles last month. This comes after he broke Gerald White’s 31-year school record for career scoring in a Class 4A-District 9 semifinal win over Sarasota Cardinal Mooney and helped the Crusaders finish 26-5 on the season while averaging 22.5 points, 4.4 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game.
Dziagwa is focused on more than just the numbers aspect of the game despite being the all-time leading scorer in TC history with 2,162 points and seventh highest scorer in Hillsborough County all-time, one point behind Berkeley Prep’s Rick Dreyer. He says breaking the record at TC is something that just shows that you can prove people wrong.
“I’m not a big record or stat guy,” he said. “My numbers speak for themselves, but these past couple of years I’ve been all about winning. In the game of basketball, all that matters is the scoreboard at the end of the game.”
At 6’5″, 180 lbs, Dziagwa is lengthy and highly intelligent on and off the court. He’s often noticeable at other sporting events around campus or on the road supporting his school. Kevin Knox his teammate for the last three seasons, a rising senior power forward Kevin Knox is well on his way to a top collegiate program. Dziagwa says Knox is a quiet kid who is a great person and a great guy to be around.
“I have a great relationship with him [Knox]. I treat him like a brother. He’s a phenomenal talent and he’s just getting started. He’s made leaps and bounds this past year. Last season, it helped since you couldn’t double off pick and rolls anymore and it was kind of like pick your poison. He took a lot of pressure off of me and I hope I took a lot of pressure off of him.”
Dziagwa admitted that he might only have the record for one year as Knox is approaching fast with just over 1,700 career points, but he doesn’t care. He actually said he hopes Knox breaks the record next season.
Recruited by 21 schools, Dziagwa narrowed his list down to five in FGCU, USF, Oklahoma State, Butler and Stephen F. Austin. He visited in-state schools FGCU and USF first, but after going out west to Oklahoma State he made his final choice to play in the Big-12 Conference.
“Besides basketball, the school aspect really caught me. Everyone is real genuine up there. I feel like everyone looks out for people and I had a real home away from home kind of vibe. The family aspect really grabbed me.”
Recruited by new Oklahoma State head coach Brad Underwood when Underwood was at Stephen F. Austin this past season, Dziagwa says he has a really close relationship with him. Underwood officially took over for Travis Ford on March 21, who spent the last eight years there helping the Cowboys advance to the NCAA Tournament five times.
Dziagwa credits his freshman season for helping him build his confidence. He debuted on the varsity squad and played AAU ball in 2012, both for his father/head coach Don Dziagwa (entering his 27th-year at Tampa Catholic).
“I worked out consistently every morning which gave me a lot of confidence. It helped seeing improvements my freshman year.”
His father coached him in AAU up until the sixth grade before coaching him again in high school. Dziagwa says he is an absolute gym rat and was probably born in the gym for all he knows.
All throughout high school, his coaching staff encouraged Dziagwa to just keep shooting, but he knows it takes a ton of hard work and practice to be among the best.
“You have to shoot hundreds and hundreds of shots to be a consistent shooter. I’m still trying to improve now that’s why I’m still shooting a lot everyday. You have to shoot a lot to be a good shooter.”
At the Hillsborough East-West All-Star game earlier this month, Dziagwa won the 3-point contest. He participated in the same challenge at the City of Palms Classic in Ft. Myers, FL last December against some of the top talent in the entire country.
Although he wishes the Crusaders were able to take part in the traditional bracket at the City of Palms, he says the experience was great. TC beat Charlotte 66-54 in a Sunshine Series game there.
Being a shooter/scorer is something that Dziagwa says is his strong suit, but he wants to be more than just that.
“I’m known for being a shooter and scorer. This year I think I showed that I’m more of a leader and point guard. I bring more than to the table than scoring and shooting.”
He is simply trying to improve every day and says you can always find something to get better at. Last year he focused on his ballhandling skills, but this summer he says he knows there is a lot to focus on.
As Dziagwa enters the next chapter in his basketball career at Oklahoma State he says he’s trying to work on his body overall.
“Playing at the next level, in that conference there are going to be a lot of potential pros that we play against. I have to get stronger and smarter.”
It will be fun to watch Dziagwa at Oklahoma State. The kid can shoot from anywhere on the court. He has a hard work ethic and should thrive in college. TC will miss his overall game, but now it is Dziagwa’s time to shine on his own under a bigger spotlight.
Favorite NBA players? – Steph Curry, J.J. Reddick and Damian Lillard. “Those are three guys I watch closely. Many people compare me to Reddick.”
Favorite TV shows and why? – The Blindspot, NBA TV Hardwood Classics and The Voice. “If I couldn’t play basketball I wish I could sing.”
Favorite Movies and why? – He’s Got Game, Glory Road and Forrest Gump. “I’m a big movie guy. I love the classics.”
Playlist before games – rapper Mike Stud and R&B
Jake Perper is the founder of Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
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