SDSU Men’s Basketball Season Preview: Joshua Tomaic

Photo Credit: Paul Garrison/EVT

Photo Credit: Paul Garrison/EVT

When the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the La Palma island erupted nearly a month ago, it is likely many San Diegans could not tell you where the Canary Islands were located. However, the eruption hit home for SDSU Men’s Basketball program because it took place in the same archipelago where senior forward Joshua Tomaic was born. Tomaic hails from the third-most populated island, Lanzarote. It is about 100 square miles smaller than the island of Oahu and has a population roughly the size of Escondido. 

Growing up on the Spanish-governed islands, he shared his childhood with his mother Lili, two sisters, and one brother who played Rugby for the Spanish national team. One of the drawbacks to living on a tropical island is that getting an education and improving one’s skills means leaving the smaller island to the most populace. In order to dedicate himself to his educational and athletic pursuits, Tomaic left his home to attend the Canarias Basketball Academy (CBA) on the island of Tenerife, which like the island of Oahu, holds the bulk population of the island chain and is about an hour flight and a lifetime away from home. 

Much like the famed IMG Academy in Florida known for developing elite talent for NCAA and NBA rosters, the CBA is focused on growing young talent into various professional leagues. CBA focuses on youth development and competes in the Spanish under-18 (U18)  and under-16 (U16) leagues. Founded in 2007, many alumni have filled out rosters worldwide, but none yet have made it into the NBA.

At CBA, Tomaic averaged 19 points and 12 rebounds per game for the CBA U18 team that placed fifth in the Spanish National Championships. Playing in the CBA allowed him to take part in American youth tournaments and his skills and basketball IQ caught the eye of various scouts and recruiters of NCAA programs.  Despite the growing hotbed of talent in the Canary Islands, Tomaic is the first Canary Islands-born player to play Division-I basketball.

“It started clicking for me,” Tomaic said in an interview with KUSI. “I want to take this more seriously. I want to go to the United States. This was always a goal for me, but it was never clear to me when or how it was going to happen.”

By the time Tomaic was a senior, he had received attention from Big-12 and Pac-12 programs and ultimately chose Maryland. 

He played behind future NBA talent Kevin Huerter, Bruno Fernando, and Jalen Smith in his three years at Maryland. Through Tomaic’s three years at Maryland, he only averaged 6.0 minutes and 1.3 points per game.

When the Aztecs reached out to recruit the 6-9 forward, Coach Brian Dutcher and his staff needed more depth behind Nathan Mensah to help guard the Mountain West’s bigs and the Power 5 teams they’ve been matched up against in the NCAA tournament.

Photo Credit: Paul Garrison/EVT

“One thing you won’t realize about Joshua is that he can really shoot the ball. It’s something he’s been good at his whole life,” Assistant Dave Velasquez told East Village Times in an exclusive interview. “He wasn’t always 6-9 and big. He didn’t grow until later in his high school years. Then at Maryland, they put him inside at the post because he was a big.”

In his one year on the Mesa, Joshua Tomaic averaged 15.6 minutes and 4.6 points per game. He had a career game against San Jose State with 19 minutes, 12 points, seven rebounds. However, his impact on the game was immediately felt when Brian Dutcher decided to start him in a 75-68 victory against Colorado State on January 4, 2021. 

The Aztecs blew a 26-point lead in a 70-67 loss at Viejas on January 2, 2021. Dutcher knew that he needed to throw a wrinkle against Colorado State and went with a bigger starting lineup with Matt Mitchell, Nathan Mensah, Adam Seiko, Aguek Arop, and Tomaic.

Tomaic had a humble night with 4 points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block. However, those rebounds gave the Aztecs the edge to close that game. The team had a total of 30 rebounds compared to the Rams’ 21. In their loss two days prior, Colorado State had the advantage on the boards with a total of 35 to San Diego State’s 29.

Tomaic would only have one additional start to close out their series against Boise State with a stat line of 7 points, four rebounds, and two blocks. He mainly came off the bench but improved his career stat line and received ample playing time.

However, his offensive potential was never reached. Having transferred in 2020 and in the middle of the pandemic, it was difficult for him to receive the training he needed to implement his unique skill set to SDSU’s system fully.

Dave Velasquez said that “more than anything, it was really hard for him to get comfortable with the staff more than the players. We didn’t have a lot of time to get into the gym with the guys. For Joshua, in a normal year, we would have spent 10 to 15 times more with him away from practice to understand him.”

Credit: Garrison/ EVT

When Tomaic announced that he, along with Trey Pulliam, would be exercising the extra eligibility, it was a relief for the Aztecs to have another big on their roster. However, the forward played his game and cards right for 2021 to ride his success for another year under Brian Dutcher’s tutelage and a chance to complete his Master’s Degree. An opportunity to run it back means another chance of helping accomplish a national title for the Aztecs and improve his shot at being the first Canary Island-born player in the NBA.

In the upcoming 2021-2022 season, Tomaic looks to improve his role as a rotating big with more tools under his belt.

“Next year’s role will be different,” said Velasquez on how the extra time with Tomaic has improved their approach to training. “We’re going to play him more on the perimeter versus the inside because we have Nathan (Mensah) and Tahirou Diabate, so he’ll be doing more drills with Keshad (Johnson) and be more of a stretch four. He’s more comfortable at the collegiate level facing the basket than his back to the basket.” 

​​Adam Seiko said to East Village Times on seeing the improved version of Tomaic, “Joshua’s game has grown tremendously over the last year. You know, at Maryland, he was a traditional four-man. They played him as a big. Over here, it’s more versatile. We want you to set screens, slip and cut to the basket and bring the ball up the floor. Josh has grown in that and works on his game every day.”

Cal transfer and new Aztec Matt Bradley said in an exclusive interview with East Village Times, echoed Seiko’s sentiment, “Josh Tomaic, I think he’s a pro. They’re starting to spread his game out.”

Tomaic has never given up and brought his positive mentality with his approach to the Mesa.  Aztec coaches are going back to the fundamentals that made him love basketball. Instead of keeping him in the post, they’re looking to improve his perimeter defense and offense.


Players and coaches see in practice that he’s been able to create more off the dribble, and his jumper has gotten more consistent. The Aztec senior attempted 23 3-pointers last year with a 21.7% on makes, so it is very likely his accuracy and attempts will go up.

In the upcoming season, the Aztec bigs will have a rare veteran rotation of bigs comprised of Nathan Mensah, Aguek Arop, and graduate transfer Tahirou Diabate. But it’s equally important to have a good stretch four in Keshad Johnson and Joshua Tomaic. The thread through Tomaic’s career is that he is an essential asset to any team he has been on and is more willing to step up to improve himself for the team.

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Erwin Mendoza
Erwin Mendoza grew up a SoCal kid, but now is raising a family in the Pacific Northwest. Besides covering San Diego State basketball, he loves lamenting the lack of sports championships from San Diego — minor league teams don’t count— while drinking the local stout on nitro.

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