Over the past 24 hours, life has changed for Thomas "Snacks" Lee, the Jackson State Tigers men's basketball team manager who went viral after connecting on a 3-pointer from Stephen Curry range in Monday's 76-56 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Senior Day.
Lee, suiting up for the first time, came into the Tigers' last home game of the season with 2:05 left and his team leading 73-46. As fans chanted "We Want Snacks," the burly senior waved his arms to build the energy. Lee proceeded to miss on three deep shots, but with 17 seconds remaining, he hit the one that would change everything.
For senior night, Jackson State's student manager, Thomas "Snacks" Lee, suited up for the Tigers and entered the game with two minutes to play.— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) March 3, 2020
Then this happened 😮
(via @AllHailDorian) pic.twitter.com/BEPGNypMMG
"It was wonderful to actually be able to check into an actual Division I game," Lee told ESPN. "I would never have thought I'd have the opportunity. For those guys to handle business and get me out there, I really appreciate it."
To cap it off, the Southwestern Athletic Conference later Tuesday named Lee its men's basketball player of the week, praising him as "a legitimate scoring threat from virtually anywhere on the court."
Lee said he's been inundated with interview requests, text messages and interactions, including a tweet from Kevin Durant, since he hit the big shot. And if you ask him, he's already changed perceptions.
"I most definitely feel like I've paved the way for the big guys," he said. "I feel like I put us on the map. A lot of times, you get into the basketball gym, a big guy is not gonna be your first choice. But I feel like I gave a lot of guys confidence."
The nickname, however, might not last. Durant is his favorite player. And the NBA superstar called Lee "Snipe," short for sniper, in a congratulatory tweet.
I see u snipe....🖤 https://t.co/OEYAo3sjAm— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) March 3, 2020
"Snacks" could become "Snipe" as a result.
"It's in the mix," said Lee, as he laughed.
Why did Lee take his made shot from so deep? Because that's just what he does.
"I was always the guy that was gonna knock down shots," Lee said. "That was the plan coming into the game."
He became Jackson State's team manager in 2015. Shortly after arriving, he started to bring Skittles and other candy to the locker room. Since he was the new guy and some of the players didn't know his name, they just started to call him "Snacks."
Although Lee had never played in a game, the team put him on scholarship last year. Before the game, however, coach Wayne Brent told his team he would give Lee a shot, if it could build a big lead over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
"Going into the game, Coach Brent said, 'If you guys really care about this man, you guys will go out there and get this win convincingly to get him out there,'" Lee said.
Early in the game, some of the players told Lee to get ready.
Late in the second half, Brent didn't have much of a choice when the crowd began to chant "We want Snacks! We want Snacks!" after it became clear that Jackson State would win.
Shortly after entering the game following the final media timeout, Lee launched and made the shot that changed everything.
"When I took the shot, I felt the energy," he said. "It was like none other. We were still on defense, but I was still celebrating. I actually didn't get back on the other side. I actually walked toward the fans and started celebrating with the crowd."
After college, Lee hopes to find an NBA job, perhaps as a coach or team manager. He's also hoping his new fame will change the future for his band, Thomas & Friends.
He plays the keyboard.
But for now, he just plans to enjoy it all.
"It's just fuel to the fire to keep doing great things," he said, "and making a positive impact on people."