Olson impresses top ranked PF

Arizona hosted their final 2006 basketball recruit this past weekend. Lance Thomas, a combo-forward from New Jersey, visited over the weekend. So how did the visit go?

"It was great," said Lance's uncle Monte Montgomery who is helping his nephew with his recruitment. "We had a great time."

Thomas, a 6-9 forward from Scotch Plains, NJ is Scout.com's 6th rated power forward and a top-20 player nationally.

The Cats kept Thomas busy. He toured the basketball facilities, met with the coaches, met with officials of both the engineering department and campus life and hung out with the players. There were pick-up games, softball games and plenty of tailgating before the Arizona/Purdue football game.

With so much to see and do, the biggest thing that impressed Thomas and his uncle was Lute Olson.

"He's definitely impressive," said Montgomery. "Just the type of leadership he displays. Just his character. He's a man of excellence."

In fact most of our conversation came back to how Olson runs his program. When discussing the great family atmosphere around McKale, Montgomery attributed much of it to the basketball team's patriarch.

"It is a great family atmosphere," he said. "That's Coach Olson. He's class. Everything is a class act. The way he deals with people. The way he treats people. It's impressive."

No matter how much you like the coach and facilities, you have to also like the players you'll be teaming with. Like the rest of the visit, the family came away impressed with the players in the program.

"The players are great kids," Montgomery noted. "We played softball with them and I got to shoot a round a bit with the team. They are an excellent group of kids. They are the kind of kids you want to be around. They do an outstanding job of attracting young men who are quality individuals on and off the court."

It wasn't all about basketball. Thomas and his uncle met with representatives of campus life, the academic support staff and the associate dean of the engineering department.

"It was very good, very informative," said Montgomery.

According to his uncle Thomas learned all about the various engineering degrees available at the school and the various job placement programs, as well as just what would be expected of an engineering student.

Of course Thomas also just hung out. He played a public pick-up game that attracted a number of fans who wanted to see an elite basketball recruit. He tailgated before the game and then just hung out in the student section with the players in a sold out Arizona Stadium.

As good as the visit went, Thomas isn't ready to pull the trigger. He plans on making a few more visits, though he has not named the schools and will then announce his selection. Though no timetable has been set, it could be awhile according to Montgomery.

"I personally think it'll happen in the springtime," Montgomery said of Lance's decision. "That is just a gut feeling. You never know, it could happen sooner."

While a lot is up in the air, Montgomery was certain that Arizona would be in the mix.


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