« Men’s Basketball 2014-15

Thomas van der Mars


University of Portland

Technology and Operations Management, MBA


Thomas van der Mars graduated in May of 2014 with a degree in Operations and Technology Management (OTM) from the Pamplin School of Business. He posted a 3.95 undergraduate cumulative grade-point average and is scheduled to receive his master’s degree in business administration in May of 2015. He currently possesses a 4.0 GPA in in his graduate school courses. He was named to the 2014 CoSIDA Academic All-America Third Team, becoming just the second player in University of Portland history to earn Academic All-America honors. He was a 2014 Division I-AAA Scholar Athlete (one of 10 nationally) and named to the 2014 NABC Honors Court. He is a two-time WCC All-Academic Team member and a three-time WCC Commissioner’s Honor Roll honoree. He has made the Dean’s List every semester (3.50 GPA or higher) and is currently working on publishing an analytical model for perishable inventory with Dr. Gary Mitchell of the Pamplin School of Business. He interned for Nike’s Global Supply Chain Department in the summer of 2013, helping the team create a centralized database of documentation for job descriptions, schedules and project due dates. He received the Operations Technology Management (OTM) Excellence Award as the top senior student in the program and was the OTM Faculty Scholarship recipient.


One of the hardest working players to come through the University of Portland program, van der Mars was selected as a team captain this season by his teammates. He is considered one of the top student-athletes on campus in terms of work ethic in the weight room and at practice. He learned to adjust, adapt and achieve excellence both on and off the court in various stops around the world, starting competitive basketball at a later age in his native country of the Netherlands and moving by himself to the Canarias Basketball Academy in the Canary Islands at the age of 19 to pursue his collegiate basketball and educational dreams. He went from a recreational basketball player to a rigorously training athlete while at the CBA. Cultural adjustments continued when van der Mars accepted a scholarship offer to the University of Portland without a previous visit to the campus. He was immediately thrust into a starting role as a freshman on a young team that struggled to a 7-24 overall record, but he has increased his statistical productivity every season, and the team has improved every season, as well. Van der Mars was recognized as a leader by members of The Program, a group that travels nationally and works with teams to create stronger unity and better leaders through shared adversity. He has a great appreciation for culture and is fluent in both Dutch and English and speaks conversational German.


Van der Mars regularly volunteers his time for a variety of charitable causes. Each of the last four years, he has volunteered with teammates at the Special Olympics of Oregon Youth Games, hosted on the nearby Nike World Headquarters. He and his teammates have put on basketball clinics at the event for various Special Olympics athletes of all ages and then welcomed them with recognition at a selected home basketball game each season. Van der Mars also regularly visits local elementary schools during the winter break to put on court clinics, sign autographs and help with classroom motivation. He and his teammates have taken a strong interest in the local St. Andrews Nativity School, which is a middle school that targets underprivileged kids and puts them on course for high school and graduation. Van der Mars has visited the school for both on-court activities, as well as classroom tutoring sessions. He and his teammates also participated in a free youth clinic for the Oregon Boys and Girls Club prior to the 2013-14 season, and they annually participate in Sam Jam, a wheelchair basketball game to benefit Friedriech’s Ataxia research, which affected former University of Portland student Sam Bridgman.


A four-year starter for the Portland Pilots at center, van der Mars currently ranks fourth in career field goal percentage (.565), seventh in blocked shots (73), and 15th in rebounds (567). He is on pace to finish in the top 10 in career scoring with 910 points entering his senior season. He led the WCC in field goal percentage (.602), was ninth in rebounds (7.2) and 16th in scoring (13.5) en route to All-Conference Honorable Mention honors last season. Van der Mars was named the WCC Player of the Week on Dec. 7 after scoring 19 points and grabbing 18 rebounds in a win at Portland State. He scored a career-high 28 points and had 11 rebounds at Santa Clara, finishing 9-for-10 from the field and 10-for-10 at the foul line. Van der Mars also scored 27 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in a triple overtime, 114-110 win against BYU on January 23, marking the program’s first win against BYU in nine games. He helped Portland snap a 20-game losing streak to Gonzaga with a wire-to-wire 82-73 win over the No. 18-ranked Bulldogs on January 9 and has increased his productivity each season to coincide with the program’s success. Van der Mars averaged 7.7 points and 5.4 rebounds and shot 53.7 percent as a freshman when the team went 7-24. He averaged 7.9 points and 5.4 rebounds and shot 54.3 percent in his sophomore year on Portland’s 11-21 team. Then, last season, he averaged 13.5 points and 7.2 rebounds and shot 60 percent from the field as Portland finished 15-16.