Lance Thomas: Nine Remain

When you watch one of Lance Thomas' games at the Peach Jam, it's hard not to take a peek down "coach row" to check out the "Who's Who" that is watching the New Jersey forward. Thomas' list sits at nine right now - and he plans to get it down to a handful in the next couple weeks.

Lance Thomas was always the "other guy". Not anymore.

No one at the Peach Jam drew a larger contingent of college coaches. Not Brandan Wright. Not Vernon Macklin. Not Spencer Hawes.

Part of it is because of Thomas' motor, which never seems to cease. Part is because of all the intangibles he brings to the court – including a rare leadership quality that always seems to pick up his teammates. Part can also be attributed to his lengthy school list, which he said will be cut down to a handful in the next two weeks or so.

The 6-foot-7 ½ Thomas, a rising senior who spent last season at St. Benedict's (N.J.) under Dan Hurley after playing second fiddle to Derrick Caracter at Scotch Plains High the previous year, rebounded in a big way from a somewhat sub-par Reebok ABCD Camp.

It wasn't that Thomas didn't get things done at ABCD. It was more a case of him relying more on an outside shot that wasn't falling instead of doing what he does best – dominating from 14 feet and in.

But Thomas and his uncle, Monty Montgomery, said that Thomas wanted to work on some of the things he was trying to improve in the gym individually – and see how it would translate in game competition.

``I know I still have a lot more work to do as far as my perimeter skills are concerned," Thomas said. "But I think I am a matchup problem at either forward spot."

Thomas has a work ethic on the court that is almost unparalleled to his peers in the Class of 2006. It comes from when his pre-teenage years.

``I played against older guys and they used to kick me off the court," Thomas said. "I hated it, so I just worked. I don't like coming in second; losing hurts."

A winning program at the next level will be important as far as Thomas' college decision is concerned, but not as crucial as early playing time.

``I want to be in a position to be successful as a freshman," Thomas said. "To have a chance to have an immediate impact."

Thomas is one of the most articulate high school players around and also boasts a 3.2 GPA. He's almost too nice to say no to college programs that want to recruit him, but it's gotten to a point where his list is so long that it's somewhat ridiculous.

Thomas said that he's considering nine schools: Arizona, Connecticut, Duke, Villanova, Florida, Rutgers, North Carolina, Louisville and Wake Forest.

``The hardest part is having to say ‘no' to these college coaches who have been recruiting me, but I'm going to have to at some point," Thomas said. "It's hard to narrow my list down, but I'm going to try and get it to five in about two weeks."

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