Aug. 1, 2003
Tharon Mayes, a guard for the Seminole men’s basketball team from 1988-90, has returned to Florida State with the goal of earning his degree in criminology as part of the Returning Student Athlete program sponsored by the Academic Support Unit in the Department of Athletics. Mayes is still prominently listed in the Florida State record book as the 18th all-time leading scorer with 1,260 career points. He is also ranked 12th all-time in steals. He played on two NCAA Tournament teams at Florida State and is remembered as one of the best one-on-one defenders in school history. Mayes visited with seminoles.com during his final exam schedule this summer and talked about his goals, his NBA and professional career, and catching up with his Seminole teammates.
When Did You Decide To Come Back To Florida State And Finish Your Degree Requirements?
“I decided to come back and finish my degree about two years ago. Earning my college degree is something I have wanted to do for a long time. It will be a big accomplishment for me when I get it done. I decided to make the commitment to get it done no matter how long it took me to finish. It is going to take longer than I thought but I am going to reach my goal. I thought I could jump back in and get it done a lot quicker than I am going to be able to. I’m close – about one semester away. It is going to take me some extra time because I have some other engagements. I’m teaching and also coaching a high school team in the Boston area. I have family up in that area – my brother is a lawyer in the Boston area. I am originally from New Haven, Conn., so I have been able to get back near where I grew up. However long it takes, I am going to get it done and earn my degree.”
What Was The Toughest Thing About Becoming A Student Again?
“The toughest thing about being a student again is the age difference. A part of me felt like an old man amongst all the young kinds again when I first came back. My goal, and what I want to achieve, is still young. Earning my degree is what I am going after.”
What Have You Been Doing Since Your Playing Career Ended?
“My playing career ended about two years ago. In the last year I have been running a number of basketball camps. I have my own camp in Toronto and I have been working various camps in the northeast. I have also been working on getting my resume out there coaching wise – that is another one of my motives in coming back to Florida State to earn my degree. I also work with my brother on a foundation for kids. Our goal with the foundation is to work with kids and place them into positive situations with positive opportunities.”
Which Teams Did You Play For During Your Career In The NBA?
“I played for the Philadelphia 76’ers and the Los Angeles Clippers under guaranteed contracts. I was also in camp with the New York Knicks, Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets- quite a few teams. I also played nine years of professional basketball in Europe. I played four years in Spain, one year in Italy and one year in Greece along with stops in Belgium, Germany, South America and Asia. I have been all over the world and just about everywhere.”
Tell Me About Your NBA Career.
“I joined the league as a free agent and felt that was a great accomplishment for myself. I played with Charles Barkley, Johnny Dawkins and Hersey Hawkins in Philadelphia. I was also able to play with former Seminole Mitchell Wiggins with the 76’ers. It was definitely a major accomplishment in my life as I look back at my career. I wish I could have prolonged it but this was what God had in store for me. I feel that I made the best of my opportunities.”
What Is Your Fondest Memory Of Being A Florida State Seminole?
“I would have to say winning on the basketball court. We won some games while I was here. That was fun and something I was very proud of. I am proud of the fact that we won a lot of games here because Tallahassee has long been known as football country. We proved that you could win, and win big, in basketball here. Winning at Florida State was a major accomplishment by our team while I was here.”
You Are Still One Of The Career Scoring Leaders At Florida State. How Much Of A sense Of Pride Is That For You?
“I haven’t really paid attention to any of the records I might have set while I was here. I never looked to anyone to let me know that sort of thing. It is a sense of pride and I am very proud of what I was able to accomplish as a Seminole. You always want to do your best — especially at a major university like Florida State. I felt like whenever I stepped onto the floor, I played my heart out. It is a sense of pride to be able to be listed in the record book at such a major institution.”
Tell Me About The Year You Averaged More Than 23 Points Per Game.
“It was my senior year and the scoring responsibility was put in my lap. The year before I had been the third leading scorer behind George McCloud and Tony Dawson. I had a lot more opportunities to score and to show my talent when those guys moved up to the next level. The goal looked big every night and I had enough shot attempts every game so I think I did well for myself.”
What Are Some Of The Memorable Games During Your Career?
“The most memorable game of my career came against Rhode Island in a game played in Madison Square Garden. I scored close to 40 points in the ECAC Tournament. That was one of the bigger games I remember and I’ll never forget playing in the Garden.”
Do You Still Keep In Touch With Your Seminole Teammates?
“Absolutely. Since I have been in town I have visited with Aubrey Boyd quite a bit. He’s a very good man and we have been able to spend a lot of time together. He has become a strong voice in this community especially to many of the kids in the neighborhoods. He has a story to tell. I have also stayed in contact with George McCloud through the years and we are still good friends. Raleigh Choice is another good friend of mine who I have kept in contact with. Raleigh is in the area and doing well in real estate. I also speak to Tony Dawson who is doing well and still playing basketball.”
What Are Your Impressions Of The Florida State Basketball Training Facility?
“It’s phenomenal. I look at that and just say wow. We had a nice gym — a good setup when I was playing but the Florida State Basketball Facility is top notch. There are no NBA or professional teams that have a facility as nice as this one. This facility needs a winning ball club and Coach Hamilton and his staff are going to do just that – win a lot of games. I think that these guys can get it done.”