Senior Send-Off: Portland’s Thomas Van Der Mars


Of all the athletes that have gone through the Portland Pilots basketball program, none exemplifies “student-athlete” more than Thomas Van Der Mars. The two-time Academic All-American graduated in just three years, before finishing up with his MBA last month. Not only did van der Mars earn an advanced degree in his four years on the bluff, but he started more games and blocked more shots than anyone ever to don the purple jersey.

Looking past the accolades and numbers, and Van Der Mars was a solid player who was the anchor down low for the past four seasons. Relying on a silky smooth baby hook, Van Der Mars finished his career averaging 9.8 points and shooting 55.5% from the field. While he could disappear from the scoring sheet at times, he consistently filled the stat sheets with rebounds and blocks.  He was a three time WCC All-Academic honor, and a two-time All-WCC Honorable Mention twice.

More from West Coast Convo

In an era of the WCC defined by quality big men like Brad Waldow of Saint Mary’s and Prezemek Karnowski of Gonzaga, Van Der Mars stood tall as one of the best in the conference despite his team not having the same notoriety. Despite not having the most flashy numbers, he was solid and reliable in the post, an asset every team would gladly take.

Thomas is one of those kids that will have great success no matter what he chooses to do next. If he wants to play professionally, I’m sure he can find a landing spot. Maybe in his home country of the Netherlands. If he chooses to put his MBA to work, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him succeed at that as well. Bottom line is this is a kid where the cliché “sky is the limit” truly applies.