Howard Payne University senior center Thomas Bingham seems to be peaking at the right time as the Yellow Jackets make their final push for the postseason.
Bingham reached double digits in scoring three out of HPU’s last four games with his latest being a 10-point, 9-rebound performance against Sul Ross.
“I have a history with Sul Ross. The past couple of years I worked at a church in Midland and we always do a summer camp at the end of it in Alpine, right next to Sul Ross,” Bingham said. “I know a lot of people from the Alpine area that are good friends of mine. It’s always that I’m fighting against friends and it makes it more exciting for me to go into those games knowing I know the people watching and my opponents. It lifts my spirits to go out there and get it.”
Although 1-6 in American Southwest Conference play, Bingham’s strong performance down the final stretch of the regular season maybe the lift the Yellow Jackets need to vault them into the postseason. With the top four teams in the ASC West Division making the conference tournament, and considering the second, third and four-place teams each have records at or below .5oo, Bingham said anything can happen so long as HPU strings together a few wins at the right time.
“The ASC is so fun because there isn’t any team you can count out,” Bingham said. “Anytime you go into a game, there is an expectation it’s going to be a dogfight that comes down to whoever wants it the most that night. To me, going in with so much passion and energy is so fun as a player.”
Although playing strong as of late, Bingham has been one of the Yellow Jackets’ strongest offensive contributors this season. The 6-8 senior trails only fellow senior Shadd Cole for team lead in points scored with 127 points over 15 games and leads the team in blocks with 13 and edged Cole Bene’ in rebounds with his team-leading 105 boards.
“We know we’re never out of it and that is the type of grit you have to have. Shadd, to me, is one of the toughest players I’ve ever played with or against in practice,” Bingham said. “He gets hit so hard and gets back up every time. He taught me so much about resilience … We complement each other well. I’m a little bit more loud and obnoxious of the two. Shadd is a little bit more quiet, but his work ethic is there.”
Bingham majors in Bible studies and looks to go into missionary work following his college basketball career and intends to incorporate basketball into his vision for the future. He considers his time at HPU a blessing and through the hardship and struggles during his three years with the program hopes he and his fellow seniors provide the foundation of an elite program.
“That is what I hope I leave Howard Payne with,” Bingham said. “If we don’t leave with a conference title or anything like that, then I hope we made an impact on these younger guys to push the bar and continue pushing forward.”