Thomas doing his homework

Lance Thomas is one of the biggest prospects in the class of 2006. While many of the top programs are coming after the talented forward, he had his eyes on a different goal. Last week Thomas achieved that goal.

Thomas wanted to win a state title and on Wednesday night he accomplished that. St. Benedict's Prep beat Petty 71-61 to win the Prep A State Title.

"He played well," said Lance's uncle Monty Montgomery. "He's been trying to win a championship. Now he will turn his focus on recruiting."

There is no doubt Thomas will be one of the most sought after recruit sin the class. He's currently ranked as Scout.com's eleventh ranked player in the class and is a legit five-star recruit.

All of the top schools are chasing him. He's not ready to list any favorites but schools like UConn, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Kansas and Syracuse have offered.

The Wildcats have also offered, and seem to be in great shape with the 6-9 forward from New Jersey.

"Arizona is one of the few schools that is really after him," Montgomery admitted.

Assistant Josh Pastner is handling the recruiting.

While Thomas is supremely talented, he is also one of the hardest working players in the class. Everyone you talk to comments on how hard he works.

"He's just trying to become a better basketball player," said Montgomery. "He's working hard to be a complete player. He knows that he needs to continue to improve his skills until they are the same as that of a college player. He wants to go to college and be an impact player and have an opportunity to start."

Speaking with Montgomery it is clear that a chance to contribute as a freshman is important. It does not sound as if Thomas is worries about competition, but he does not want to enter a situation where the school is so deep at his position that he has no chance to see the floor early on.

"He is going to school in order to make an impact, so he knows he has to work on his game or else he is not going to play," Montgomery explained. "He knows that one has to work hard and perfect things then he can move on from there."

Because he wants to find the perfect fit and a great situation, don't expect a quick decision. He could choose a school today and learn that they are taking three more players at his position. Likewise, he could rule out a school right now because there is a logjam, only to find out that players are leaving the program.

"He's not going to rush into any decisions," Montgomery said. "He is going to closely investigate the situation. He is going to look at the rosters and see if there is a backlog of wings. He'll look at who is staying and who is graduating. He'll even look at who might be transferring and if they are going to double sign wings. He's going to look at all of these factors. He's going to look at all these and hone in on which school is a solid fit for him." You may have noticed that Montgomery talked about the wing position. Although Thomas is listed as a power forward, he wants to play the three in college. While he certainly has power forward size, he has the frame and athleticism to play outside. When I saw him over the summer he was primarily playing inside, but his quickness and ability to put the ball on the floor indicated he could indeed become a wing player.

"He is going to be a three. Depending on how well his shot develops he can also be a two. He wants to be a three man that is versatile. He wants to be a three that can post up, play out on the perimeter and even bring the ball up the court."

His shot is a bit of a concern. In the four games I saw him play, I don't think he took more than three or four outside shots. It will also be interesting to see what kind of feel he has for the perimeter. Hopefully his AAU coaches will allow him to see plenty of time at the wing. It will be very tempting to keep him on the blocks because he has the talent to dominate down low and a good four is hard to find.

Thomas goes to St. Benedict Prep, the same school that produced NBA first rounder J.R. Smith. Like Smith, he may have the temptation to bypass college. While many recruits avoid discussing the NBA because they fear it will scare off college recruiters, Montgomery is honest about his nephew's decision making process.

"It's all about the opportunities," Montgomery confessed. "He'll obviously explore that option if it is open to him at that time. He'll look at it if that opportunity knocks, we'll see if it is even an option. It's his childhood dream and he'd have to consider taking that option if it is a realistic one. He has a lot to think about because there is also a great benefit to going to college for four years and getting a degree."

So what's next for Thomas? He'll take a few weeks off to rest after the grueling high school season. Then he'll get back to the gym in preparation for the summer recruiting season. It looks as if his pursuers may have to wait until the summer is over before they know Thomas' decision.

"He'll really take a long look after the summer," Thomas said. "Once he makes a decision there is no turning back. We'll go through the process in steps. After the summer recruiting events he'll start to see who is really interested. Arizona is definitely on the visit list."

E-mail Brad at bradallis@msn.com


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