WYE MILLS - During games, it’s hard to say which is more impressive about Chesapeake College sophomore point guard Mahzi Thames: his leadership skills or his scoring ability.
Thames, who has led the Skipjacks in points during the past two seasons – 2019/2020 and 2021/2022 – is that good in both areas.
But Chesapeake Coach Andrew Sachs considers 6-foot-1, 175-pound Thames’ leadership qualities to be his biggest asset.
“He is a great general, and Division I (four-year college) player without question,” the coach explains. “He knows where everybody is supposed to be on the floor at all times, and he gets the guys in the spots where they need to be. He does it in practice and games.”
Thames, a Meade High graduate, says he leads by example. He just doesn’t talk that much.
“I like to show people how to do things,” Thames said. “I am not as vocal as other players.”
As a freshman, Thames quickly established himself as one of the Skipjacks’ best players.
He led Chesapeake in scoring (15.4 average) and assists (5.0), finished second in field-goal percentage (50.3), and fourth in rebounding (4.2). The Skipjacks went 18-9 and Thames earned Maryland JUCO Second-Team honors as the Skipjacks went 18-9. It was their best record in 12 years and first winning season in seven.
“I knew he would (have an impact) because he was a really good high school player,” Sachs said of Thames, who averaged 28 points as a senior and finished as Meade’s second all-time leading scorer. “He played a lot of minutes.”
And he put on a show in his first college game. He helped Chesapeake to an 84-76 victory over Hagerstown Community College in November with a season-high 32 points, including 30 in the second half.
Big second halves are common for Thames. He is a point guard first, scorer second.
“I like to start off games by getting my team more involved,” Thames said. “So in the first half, I start off kind of slow. I like to see what the defense does first, and it’s easy to get my team involved. I am a second-half scorer. It’s starting to be a pattern for me.”
He also dominated in the second half against Harcum College of Pennsylvania with 28 out his 34 points.
“Harcum is a top-10 team in the country in Division I,” Sachs said.
Thames is leading a team – ranked No. 12 in the National Junior College Athletic Association men’s basketball Division II poll -- in points (18.6) and assists (4.7). The Skipjacks are off to a sizzling 11-1 start.
“I think he has to score a lot for us because we are so small,” Sachs said. “He is a great finisher at the rim. You don’t see that a lot at our level.”
Thames is getting great support from his teammates in the scoring column.
Freshmen guards JayShaun Freeman (17.6) and DJ Earl (13.7), sophomore guard Craig Turner (10.9), and sophomore forward Jabraun Shingler (10.5) are all averaging in double figures.