FARMINGTON — It’s a new level of basketball, but Parker Desjardins is in his element.

Desjardins, a Forest Hills High School graduate, is a freshman for the Thomas College men’s basketball team. While some programs may ease first-year players into the lineup, Desjardins has been thrown into the deep end of the pool, averaging 19.8 minutes a game for the Terriers, who have a 4-8 overall record this season (1-5 in North Atlantic Conference play). He’s started in four of Thomas’ 12 games, including Tuesday night’s 72-67 loss to its rival, the University of Maine at Farmington.

A 5-foot, 10-inch guard, Desjardins is third on the team in scoring, averaging 11.3 points per game. He’s also the Terriers’ top 3-point threat, nailing 25 of 56 shots beyond the arc this season. His 44.6 percent success rate in threes is currently third-best among players in the NAC.

“Everything about him is as advertised,” Thomas head coach Deshon Gaither said. “He’s good.”

Gaither, now in his third year leading the Terriers, credits Desjardins’ work ethic as a reason for success.

“To be honest with you, (his play) has been top notch,” Gaither said. “He doesn’t say much. ‘Yes, Coach. You’re right, Coach. Yes, sir.’ That’s it. That’s very rare for any kind of athlete, I don’t care what level you play, (players) always have two cents to say… The kid is a 4.0 (grade point average) student. He loves (the game). He’s in the gym every morning at 6 (a.m.). Then he comes back at night and shoots. His hard work shows.”


That work ethic didn’t come overnight, but instead, with early morning shootarounds at his home in Jackman. It led to a high school career that included more than 2,000 points of scoring — one of 19 players in state history to hit the mark, male or female — and a 2019 Class D state championship.

Thomas College guard Parker Desjardins, right, defends UMaine-Farmington guard Terion Moss during a game Tuesday in Farmington. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Even with the work and success, a jump to Division III basketball was a major step. But Desjardins said he sees similarities in how Thomas runs its offense compared to Forest Hills.

“At Forest Hills, we played fast,” Desjardins said. “In my first game (an 82-80 win over the University of Southern Maine on Nov. 5), it was tough. I was like, ‘Holy cow, these guys are fast.’ But after that, I kind of caught on and it went smoothly. Coach has trust in me, so it was easy to play when he has trust in me. And my teammates have trust in me as well. We’re a tight-knit team, we have faith in one another. It’s been an easy transition that way. But everyone is fast, defenses are good. It’s fun playing at a higher level, for sure.”

Desjardins is already showing a knack for hitting a timely shot for the Terriers. Against UMF on Tuesday, Desjardins drained a jumper that tied the game 57-57 with less than four minutes remaining in the second half. He later nailed a 3-pointer that brought the Terriers within two points (62-60) before UMF sealed the game, with Maranacook graduate Silas Mohlar going 6 of 6 from the foul line.

Despite his offensive success, Desjardins knows there’s plenty of work to be continued on his game.

“(Gaither) says to always be aggressive, don’t shy away from getting to the basket,” Desjardins said. “Just play my game, don’t be afraid of anything and just play hard.”

“Everyone knows he can shoot,” Gaither said. “Now I’m telling him, ‘Son, now you need to show that you can dribble a little bit, become more than a one-trick pony.’ His defense is actually probably the most surprising. He keeps guys in front of him. In Jackman, (Forest Hills) was blowing teams out like the Golden State Warriors and I think they ran zone a lot. I think playing AAU and traveling around helped him out a lot, as well.”

Desjardins is one of nine freshmen on a young Thomas roster this season. Fellow first-year teammate Sawyer Deprey, a 6’3″ guard/forward from Caribou High School, leads the Terriers in scoring (16.7 ppg) and rebounds (9.3 per game). With an improving roster and just one senior graduating after this season, Desjardins is a focal point of a team that may be on the rise within the NAC.

“We’re one step away from getting those teams (like UMF),” Desjardins said. “We’ve lost most of our games by just a few points. A lot of teams are underestimating us, and we know that. So, in the (NAC) tournament, we’re going to come out there and give it our best shot, because we know (other teams) aren’t going to be ready for us.”

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