It’s been two years and eight months since Thomas Bruce has taken the court for the Bearcats, but the imposing 6-foot-9-inch defensive forward is finally back in Binghamton for his senior year. The former America East (AE) All-Defensive Team member missed the last two seasons due to complications from a concussion, but he is on the roster and ready to go for the 2020-21 season.
“It just feels good to be back in a comfortable setting,” Bruce said. “You’re used to the playing areas, you’re used to the people, so it feels pretty good to be back in the Binghamton area and see all my people.”
Following the concussion that ended his 2018-2019 campaign in the preseason, Bruce took the following academic year off to recover, spending that time off at home in Washington, D.C.
“It was a pretty severe concussion,” Bruce said. “I felt it would be best for me to just take the year off, recollect myself, work on my body and then come back 100 percent.”
Bruce was named to the AE All-Defensive Team in both of his last two seasons on the team. During his junior year, he was the Bearcats’ leader in rebounds and blocks by far, averaging 8.8 boards per game and recording 61 blocks. Without him, last year’s team was plagued by inexperience and defensive struggles, finishing last in the AE in team defense.
“I think the energy I bring on defense will help us for sure,” Bruce said. “Coming back and having been on the all-conference team for defense, I take pride in that. I’m gonna kinda take the lead role and make sure that everyone’s doing what they need to do on that end of the court, and make sure everyone knows where they’re supposed to be and what’s going on.”
While defense is his specialty, Bruce does pose a substantial threat on offense, averaging 11.1 points in 2017-2018. That leads to his personal goal for the season, recording a double-double in every game this season. He recorded nine in his last season, good enough for second in the AE.
“I just want to come out every night and make sure that I give my 110-percent effort, and to make sure that I get a double-double every game to ensure that we’re in a place where we can win the game,” Bruce said.
Prior to suffering the concussion, Bruce was one of the youngest players in his class. Binghamton head coach Tommy Dempsey noted prior to his junior year that he would still be 19 years old at the season opener. Now, as one of the oldest and most experienced players on the team, he finds himself in an increased leadership role on the team.
“I’m definitely looking forward to taking on that leader role more this year, and kinda being that big brother figure to my teammates,” Bruce said. “Just kinda being the one they can go to, keeping them calm in situations on the court and [being] someone that can come to off the court if they have a problem.”
Since Bruce played his last game in the 2017-2018 season finale, the BU roster has completely turned over. He has spent the last few weeks getting to know his new teammates, and he thinks he will fit in well on the court.
“It’s been going really well, being able to live with them, get adjusted to them, see them in practice on the court,” Bruce said. “I feel like we’ve meshed pretty well. I’m an all-team player, so I feel like I can fit in in pretty much any system. Getting to play with them and getting to see their strengths and weaknesses has been really fun, and I’m looking forward to getting out there on the court and playing [with them] for real.”