I was recently assigned the task of writing a short story for my journalism course. To begin, I was a bit puzzled with what the idea of the story should surround.
Tom House was an individual I’d been wanting to publish an article on for almost a year now. Instagram DM’s between us discussing the idea date back to July 26th, 2020. “I’m interested in writing an article on you. I’m going to send over a few questions to get quotes from you later that you can answer whenever you’re free,” I sent. This is when I first learned of House’s swimming background, lack of basketball experience, and much more.
The story became lost in the assortment of ideas and visions I’ve forged. But, Mrs. Drake’s assignment was distributed at just the right time, two days prior to House receiving his first division one offer. While pondering what my story would envelop, I realized this was the perfect opportunity to write on House. It was extremely newsworthy. It was timely, proximal, prominent, and brimmed with human interest.
It also gave me the chance to write about the game I love, fueling a story constructed with passion and confidence. Since joining Miami Valley Hoop Vault in the Spring of 2020, I’ve been able to build an abundant amount of relationships. I’ve been thankful to build one with Tom, and the thousands of other prospects in Dayton. I continue to enjoy watching and supporting their journeys.
Many intriguing stories have been shared of Dayton’s best this year. For example, Allen Lattimore Jr. had one of the most absorbing and heartbreaking stories of the season. I hope to share more stories of our city’s talented individuals in the future.
Through the research and process of assembling this short story, I learned a lot about Tom and his family. If I could sum up Tom House in one word: I’d choose toughness.
The Tom House Story
It’s Sunday, March 7th. Tom House, a junior at Centerville High School, is watching film while eating dinner. He receives a phone call. On the other line is Coach Langhurst from Robert Morris University’s basketball program. The day after coming off of a 20 point performance in a postseason win over Mason, his hard work and dedication had finally paid off. House had received his first division one basketball offer.
“I got the call this past Sunday over the phone. He asked about the Mason game and we talked some more. It kind of came out of nowhere. But, it was very exciting”, House shares.
House’s resume runs far before his stellar showing on March 6th, where he shot 86% from the floor against the Comets, including 80% from behind the arc and 100% from the charity stripe. He currently places 2nd in conference scoring (18.1), 1st in three pointers made (73), 5th in free throw percentage (85.1), and 3rd in three point percentage on at least 50 attempts (40.3). These standout statistics earned him an All-Conference 1st Team selection and All-Ohio Southwest District Division One 2nd Team honors.
By joining Robert Morris, House would join an array of other Dayton natives competing in the Horizon League. This year, Trotwood-Madison alumni, Torrey Patton, has led Cleveland State to their first March Madness birth since 2009, third in school history. Bellbrook’s TJ Nagy and Oakwood’s Andy Neff contributed to Wright State’s 80% winning percentage. The Raiders also recently handed offers out to Alter’s Jacob Conner and Fairmont alumni, Ryan Hall. Wayne bred, Darius Quisenberry continues to prove he’s a superstar at Youngstown State. Green Bay’s Amari Davis recently hit the transfer portal. The former Trotwood-Madison ram was on track to be UWGB’s all-time leading scorer. It’s safe to say House would continue the trend of productive Dayton prospects to enter the Horizon League.
Coach Andrew Toole and Coach Jimmy Langhurst might be the only division one coaches to offer House, but they aren’t the only ones to show interest in the 6’6” shooting guard. Over the past year, he’s also been contacted by Davidson, Texas A&M, Florida State, South Carolina, St. Johns, Wright State, Columbia, Valparaiso, Princeton, Miami (OH), and many other division one programs. There’s many high caliber high school athletes with through the roof statistics. So this raises the question, what makes college coaches so keen of House?
“My size and scoring ability [is what makes me stick out]. Also, how I can affect games outside of scoring: rebounding, communication, defense . . .” the state ranked shooter explains.
He also pointed to his room for growth as a primary factor. What many don’t know is that House was recently a nationally acclaimed swimmer, so the majority of his focus was not directed at basketball until just a year ago. House had not played organized basketball until middle school, and was heavily committed to swimming. His work ethic led him to become a top ten nationally ranked swimmer as a 15 year old, as well as an invitation to the National Select Camp in December of 2019. He was Olympic bound. But, in May of 2020, House made a huge sacrifice. He directed all his efforts away from the pool, and towards the court.
“I’d get up and go to practice and [swimming] wasn’t something I loved to do. You have to love what you do if you’re going to choose to do it all throughout college. It was an easy decision for me, but it took a while since I’d been swimming since I was 4 [years old]. I wasn’t in love with swimming, but I’m in love with getting better at basketball,” House tells me.
With his efforts directed elsewhere for the majority of his childhood and a strained Retinaculum and bone bruise postponing his sophomore season, it has to be an eye-catcher to coaches that House has reached this level of success this quickly. Much of his spike in value and productivity can be attributed to his favorite aspect of the game: consistency in work.
“For me, it’s being able to get better and see results everyday. . . If you’re able to put time into what you love doing, you’ll see results. It’s amazing,” House described.
House also assigned his love for the game and surge of success to his fellow teammates and coaches. “I’ve got a good support system. I have Gabe [Cupps] and his dad, [Coach Cupps], so we’re able to get into the gym. And, of course Rich Rolf. They love getting in the gym with me,” House says.
Surrounded in a program of leaders, the Cupps’ and Rolf are well-known and well respected in Ohio’s basketball community. Gabe and Rich both took home All-Conference 1st Team and All-Ohio Southwest Division One 1st Team honors this season. Gabe Cupps, a national star, currently ranks 1st in conference assists per game (5.2). Rich Rolf, a 6’7” junior, leads the Greater Western Ohio Conference in rebounds per game (11.2).
The elks are currently 24-3 and expected to make a state championship run this postseason, as well as next. They’ve competed against one of the toughest schedules in Ohio this year, facing La Salle, Moeller, Pickerington Central, Woodward, Wayne, St Vincent St Mary’s, St. Edward, Trotwood-Madison, ISA Andrews Osborne, and more!
Their season has yet to end, reaping a district championship triumph over Mason and the GMC Player of The Year, Trey Killens. Most recently, they moved onto OHSAA’s division one ‘final four’ for the first time in program history, after a 40-38 win over Ohio basketball’s goliath: Archbishop Moeller. Coach Brook Cupps has led at the helm of Centerville’s success this season.
“His passion for the game and his teammates immediately sets him apart from the majority of high school players. Add in a relentless work ethic and the courage to always want to compete against the best and you have the makings of a great player. Tom’s parents have provided him with a tremendous foundation to grow from. He’s a great teammate that cares about winning above all else. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a small part of his journey as a player, and person,” House’s varsity coach says.
House’s parents certainly have set the right groundwork for his growth thus far. Coming from an athletically enriched family, he has grown up around the game. His father, Jeff House, served as a collegiate and professional women’s basketball coach. Mr. House’s influence spanned over many campuses and organizations, coaching 19 WNBA All-Stars and major award winners along with four Olympians. As a recruiting coordinator at Virginia, he produced three top 15 recruiting classes for three consecutive years: No. 10 (2008), No. 3 (2009), and No 14 (2010).
Tom House’s mother, Ann-Leonard House, was the head women’s volleyball coach at UMass-Lowell and Rutgers. The volleyball affluence trickled down to House’s sister, Elizabeth House. She’s currently in her junior year at the University of Dayton, one of the volleyball program’s leading contributors.
“For us, it was just facilitating his dreams. All of this was Tom’s perseverance and belief in himself that he could accomplish everything that he dreamed of doing in basketball,” reveals Mr. House.
Tom’s offer was no surprise to Mr. House, but the timing was . . .
“I never doubted that Tom would receive an offer, while excelling at what he loved doing. But, I didn’t expect it to be this soon. Tom was spending all of his time in the pool until just about a year ago, so he wasn’t on many radars. When he decides to focus on basketball, the pandemic hits. So, recruitment conditions weren’t ideal.”
With both of House’s parents persevering through extremely adverse situations, it’s no wonder he’s become the individual he is today. It’s also no wonder he’s been able to compete in his last two post-season games with a grade two MCL strain.
Mr. House bounced back from a career ending injury while playing at Nazareth College, quickly jumping into the coaching scene where he became tremendously fruitful. A couple years ago, Mrs. House trampled the odds and beat breast cancer; one of the leading causes of death among women. She’s the reason Tom House dons #12 every time he steps onto the floor.
“I’m really close with my mom. She does a lot for me . . . She’s probably the strongest person I know. Twelve represents ‘I love you’. That’s my thing with #12. That’s my way of paying respect to my mom every time that I play,” House clarifies.
House’s family will certainly be in his thoughts as he strides into the OHSAA’s state semifinals on Saturday, March 20th. After draining the game winning three, hand in his face, playing on a severely unhealthy knee, against the #1 ranked team in OHSAA DI basketball, House will have his work cut out for him once again.
The elks will go head to head with another #1 seed, Mentor. The Cleveland area program is undefeated on the season, 25-0. Not only will some of Ohio’s best talent face off at the University of Dayton arena, two of the most decorated coaches will as well.
Cupps will be challenged with the task of out coaching Mentor’s Bob Krizancic. Krizancic has forty-plus years of coaching experience under his belt, tallying up a career record of 678-279. While at Mentor, he brandishes a winning percentage of 72%. This puts him at 6th in all-time OHSAA victories as a coach. In 2013, he brought the cardinals their first, and only state championship.
Coach Cupps, House, and the Centerville Elks will be looking to bring home their first title this year on March 21st. First, they must eliminate the challenge ahead in Mentor. Tune in Saturday at 5:30pm, UD Arena, to see Tom House in action.
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