Archdeacon: Not your Average Joe

Joe Thomasson, his fiance LaDresha and their 7 month old son Jesiah at UD Arena on Wednesday. Tom Archdeacon photo

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Joe Thomasson, his fiance LaDresha and their 7 month old son Jesiah at UD Arena on Wednesday. Tom Archdeacon photo

Thurgood Marshall, Wright State product Thomasson has ‘a pretty amazing story’

He nodded toward his fiancé, LaDresha Player Spear, who had their 7-month-old son Jesiah cradled in the crook of right arm as she sat courtside at UD Arena on Wednesday afternoon.

“Sometimes he can be a little sour patch kid, but ultimately he’s a happy boy,” Joe Thomasson said. “Look at him today. He hasn’t cried. He’s just smiling.”

Then again, no wonder.

The kid must know that his dad had capitalized on his prize trait – his unflagging persistence – once again.

That’s what had gotten Thomasson – the former Thurgood Marshall and Wright State University basketball standout who’s now six years in a pro career – on the makeshift stage at the edge of Blackburn Court as a small crowd took in every word he and three of his Red Scare teammates said about The Basketball Tournament (TBT).

The upcoming 64-team, winner-take-all $1 million tournament will begin for them in an eight-team regional bracket at the Arena on July 24. And, if all goes well, the Red Scare could end up there too in the title game, Aug. 2.

The quartet – Thomasson and former University of Dayton players Scoochie Smith, Darrell Davis and Ryan Mikesell – represented their mostly UD-connected, 10-man team as they talked about how the Red Scare was put together; what it means to play in the high-stakes tournament; and how important it is to play in the Arena, where they’ll certainly have their own loyal cheering section.

No one knows more about the latter than Thomasson.

And that goes back to LaDresha, his girlfriend of over a dozen years and the mother of his three children: 10-year-old Joe III, 7-year-old Aundrea and Jesiah, who was born last November in Spain when Thomasson, a 6-foot-4 guard, was playing for Baxi Manresa, a Liga ACB team located in the Catalonia section of the country.

Once LaDresha led the cheering section for Thomasson.

“The whole thing’s a pretty amazing story,” Thomasson said.

And it goes back to his persistence and how he managed the unlikely courtship of LaDresha all those years ago.

“Yes, he was persistent,” she said with a laugh.

Their story began the summer before Joe’s sophomore year at Thurgood Marshall.

“Actually the school year before that, when he was a freshman, we were in the same building,” LaDresha said. “But I was a grade higher and, well, you know, the sophomores don’t really pay attention to the freshman.”

But they had mutual friends and they ended up talking by phone over the summer.

“The first day of school in August he came up and he had good conversation,” LaDresha said. “It started out as a play thing and then I was like, ‘OK, he’ll be my little boyfriend and I’ll have him buy me lunch at school, things like that.’

“But it turned out to be much more obviously. He was a very, very nice guy. He wasn’t like the average boys in high school. He was mature and had set goals and I started to like him.”

She admitted her girlfriends didn’t like that: “They disapproved. They were like, ‘What are you doing? He’s a grade behind us!”

“He’s younger, though really he’s just three months younger. We’re both 28 now.”

As she saw Joe, standing nearby and listening Wednesday, she cracked: “Alright don’t get a big head!”

He moved away – with a big smile – and later explained:

“She was a grade ahead of me and those girls don’t usually like younger guys. But I was different. I’m not your average Joe.

“I like to think outside the box. I took a different approach. I just talked to her, made her laugh, made her smile.

“I was real persistent with my efforts. And it worked.

“You want to know how well?

“That year she was the captain of the varsity cheerleaders, but I was a sophomore and was starting on the JV team. She gave up her position with the varsity cheerleaders and came down to cheer me on JV.

“That’s why I say it’s pretty amazing.

“Here we are, all these years later, with all the different places basketball has taken me, and we’re still together.

“And she’s given me three beautiful children. She’s just an unbelievable woman. I’m where I am today because of her.”

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The Red Scare's Joe Thomasson holds his son Jesiah (7 months) as his fiancée, LaDreshay, watches after a press conference for The Basketball Tournament on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, at UD Arena in Dayton. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

The Red Scare's Joe Thomasson holds his son  Jesiah (7 months) as his fiancée, LaDreshay, watches after a press conference for The Basketball Tournament on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, at UD Arena in Dayton. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

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The Red Scare's Joe Thomasson holds his son Jesiah (7 months) as his fiancée, LaDreshay, watches after a press conference for The Basketball Tournament on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, at UD Arena in Dayton. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

On-court success

And because of his own persistence.

As a high school junior, he’d hit the winning basket against Toledo Rodgers that put Thurgood into the Division II state title game. As a senor he was captain of the Cougars team and averaged 16 points per game.

He’d drawn some Division I interest and had committed to Wright State, but because of his academic deficiencies, the school did not accept his admission.

Undeterred, he went to State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Missouri, and averaged 14.2 points per game as a freshman. The next year, he averaged 18 points was named a junior college All American and, best of all, improved his academic standing and got an associate degree.

He committed to Oklahoma State, but then changed his mind and decided to stick with Wright State, which had been unwavering in its support and with whom he’d developed a strong bond with Raiders’ assistant coach Chris Moore.

His first season at WSU (2014-15) he ended up second in the Horizon League in field goal percentage (57.6) and ninth in blocked shots.

His senior season he ended up in the top seven in the league in free throw percentage, defensive rebounds and assists and was named to the league’s all defensive team.

Since then he’s been on a pro basketball whirlwind through Europe, playing for a team in Bucharest, Romania, then for three different teams in Poland, spending the 2020-21 season in Israel and last year starring for Baxi Manresa, which finished as the runner-up in the Spanish league while he won All-League honors.

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Joe Thomasson (left) and Scoochie Smith. Tom Archdeacon photo

Joe Thomasson (left) and Scoochie Smith. Tom Archdeacon photo

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Joe Thomasson (left) and Scoochie Smith. Tom Archdeacon photo

Dream come true

Thanks again to his persistence, Thomasson now is getting a chance to be cheered by Flyers fans at UD Arena.

He said the last time he played there was his senior year at Thurgood, when the Cougars thumped previously unbeaten Franklin – led by then-freshman Luke Kennard (now five years into a lucrative NBA career) – in the sectional finals in front of a crowd of over 9,000.

Back then he had dreamed of regularly playing at the Arena.

“Dayton was the school he’d wanted to go to,” LaDresha said.

The Flyers didn’t recruit him coming out of high school, Thomasson said, but after his All-America season at State Fair CC, he said UD coach Archie Miller came to Missouri to talk to him.

But by then he’d committed to Wright State and believed in loyalty.

Although he’s now travelling the world, Thomasson still remains rooted to the Dayton area.

He and LaDresha have a home in Huber Heights where they live in the off seasons.

And his local allegiance is forever inked on his right forearm. It contains a horizontal “Dayton” tattoo, under which “Ohio” is written vertically in large script.

He got the needlework done in 2013 at a Missouri tattoo parlor.

At the time he explained the significance to me:

“Some people leave Dayton and don’t look back, but Dayton is in my heart forever. It’s where I came from. It’s made me who I am. It’s what I love.”

Although he didn’t go to UD, Thomasson was on campus a lot said former Flyers point guard Scoochie Smith:

“He was always here playing in open gym and he’d bring other city kids and I’d hoop with them in the practice gym.”

Thomasson nodded: “Sometimes it was late at night – midnight, maybe 1 a.m.”

This year’s Red Scare team was built with seven former Flyers players – Vee Sanford, Jordan Sibert, Josh Cunningham, Trey Landers, Davis, Mikesell and Smith – and three other players were added:

7-foot Kosta Koufos, the Ohio State product who played 11 years in the NBA, former Buckeye CJ Walker who plays professionally in Germany and Thomasson.

“Joe’s ecstatic,” LaDresha said. “He talks about it every day. I can’t wait until the day comes so he can be on the court. He lives and breathes basketball, He just loves it.”

As for his other love, he said he finally proposed to LaDresha last year and they’ll wed next year.

Asked about his long courtship, Thomasson suddenly sounded more cautious than persistent.

“You can’t rush it,” he grinned. “You got to do it when the time is right. And that’s now. It’s the right time.”

And it’s final proof that persistence does pay off.

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Red Scare teammates Ryan Mikesell, Darrell Davis, Scoochie Smith and Joe Thomasson are introduced to the crowd at a press conference for The Basketball Tournament on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, at UD Arena in Dayton. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Red Scare teammates Ryan Mikesell, Darrell Davis, Scoochie Smith and Joe Thomasson are introduced to the crowd at a press conference for The Basketball Tournament on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, at UD Arena in Dayton. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

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Red Scare teammates Ryan Mikesell, Darrell Davis, Scoochie Smith and Joe Thomasson are introduced to the crowd at a press conference for The Basketball Tournament on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, at UD Arena in Dayton. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

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