When talking about Stephen F. Austin men’s basketball, Thomas Walkup is bound to come up in conversation.
The senior has been an absolute force on the court for the Lumberjacks and there's no doubt he's been a key contributor to the team's 18-0 run. Walkup has lead SFA in a season for the record books, while claiming historic benchmarks for himself along the way.
In head coach Brad Underwood’s entire coaching career, he describes Walkup as a truly one-of-a-kind player.
“He's the most selfless player I've coached, one of the hardest working, if not the hardest working player I’ve ever coached. He's self-made,” said Underwood.
Walkup also pulled of the first triple-double in 43 years at SFA with a 12-point, career-high 15 rebounds and 10 assists performance against Incarnate Word.
“I think without the team's success, I wouldn't have been able to reach my individual success,” said Walkup. “We're getting recognition as individuals because we're playing so well as a team.”
The impressive numbers game doesn't stop there.
Walkup had five games this year where he scored 30 points or more. Currently averaging over 17 points a game, Walkup's collected a total of 519 points in 30 games this year.
In the 'Jacks season finale against Sam Houston Walkup added a career-high 38 points to his tab.
Walkup said when he started his college career, he didn't believe these stats would be possible until there was faith from others.
“My success is definitely because of the coaching staff and how they've seen what my future could have been long before I did,” said Walkup. “My first year Coach Underwood told me I could be an all-conference player and I looked at him like he was crazy. That just wasn't in my brain yet and he drilled it in there and made me believe it.”
Now named the back-to-back Southland Conference Player of the Year, while on All-American watch lists, Underwood believes there's more to come for the senior.
“As good a player as he is, he's a better person. His best days I think are still in front of him but he's an unbelievable leader,” said Underwood. “He's set the whole culture here in terms of work ethic and expectations and for him I'm extremely happy."
With more still left in Walkup's senior season, he has already become the program's winningest player along with Trey Pinkney.
Lumberjacks will need Walkup’s efforts to keep their season alive in the Southland Conference Tournament. With the No. 1 seed, SFA will play the winner of Houston Baptist and Southeastern Louisiana at the Leonard E. Merrell Center in Katy, Friday afternoon at 5 p.m.
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