Former Newman basketball player Gavin Thurman has been playing professional basketball since 2016 and is looking forward to continuing for many years to come.
He attended Wichita Southeast High School for his freshman through junior years and then moved over to Heights where he graduated in 2012.
Thurman then signed with Missouri State to play Division I basketball but missed his hometown. When Mark Potter — at the time head coach for the Newman men’s basketball team — came to visit him in Springfield, he knew this was his chance to return to Wichita. He transferred to Newman in 2015.
Potter described Thurman as a great addition to the Newman team.
“Gavin can really shoot. Offensively he is really skilled. Gavin’s personality is laid back and he gets along with everyone on the team. When he signed that contract, they were happy for him. He had a good attitude day in and day out,” Potter said.
Thurman said, “The main reason I wanted to come back, was because it was my hometown. And I got a job with a friend, the current grad assistant, so we both decided to go back to NU together and play at home.”
He said playing for Newman was a great experience.
“Potter is a really straightforward and honest guy. He really pushed me, both him and coach (R.J.) Allen. They really were on me every day at practice and they always saw the potential.”
Thurman said he was fortunate enough to play really well and he started receiving phone calls from professional teams.
Since then, he’s moved around a bit within the professional basketball world.
“I played a season with the Orangeville A’s, then played for a few months in Luxembourg, Germany. My most recent team I signed with is the St. John’s Edge.”
Making the transition to professional basketball had its challenging moments, Thurman said.
“Going in, I really didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “I remember I was nervous my first couple of practices. And the professional game is a lot different than a college game — the space is bigger, the rules are a little different.
“One thing that challenged me was the pace, the 24-second clock — instead of 30. I really missed those six seconds. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really is.”
During his most recent season with the Edge, however, Thurman had a bad injury that took him out of the game — for now.
He is currently healing and in rehab back in Wichita. But he’s keeping the sport in his life. Aside from hanging out with his old Newman team once in awhile, Thurman helps younger athletes in the community with their technique and skillset.
“My injury was a hamstring pull — a really bad one,” explained Thurman. “I’m getting better and stronger; it’s just taking a little more time than usual. In the meantime, I’m training some kids on the side.”
Thurman said he enjoys the one-on-one time he gets working with middle school and high school players. The best part, he added, is seeing them in their games using the skills and techniques they work on together during their private training sessions.
“When I watch them play in their games,” said Thurman, “I see them do some of the moves I’ve taught them — that’s a really good feeling.”
Teaching them the basics is something that Thurman is passionate about.
“My biggest thing is to keep it simple for them,” he said. “They probably watch a lot of NBA and I have to keep telling them, ‘You’re not going to do the things that LeBron James does. That comes with time and experience.’ I really focus on keeping things simple. That’s all they need now, and in time, they will keep getting stronger and better.”
Thurman plans on getting back to pro basketball as soon as he’s able to. He’s been staying in touch with the Edge’s coach but is also looking at opportunities in other countries including Asia and Dubai.
His long-term goal is to make a career with the sport, whether it is to continue playing pro for as long as he can or becoming a college basketball coach.
Thurman said, “If I get into coaching, my goal would be to get into the collegiate-level coaching. I feel like I can relate more to that level. But I will always like to work with kids, too.”