Weekend Visit On Tap For Thomas

Lance Thomas, a McDonald's All-American from St. Benedict's, is heading south for the weekend. We spoke to one of the members of Thomas' inner circle to get the latest.

March Madness is upon us and the pandemonium is beginning to find its way into recruiting battles as well. One of the big tug-of-wars this season involves St. Benedict's 6-foot-8 forward Lance Thomas.

Scout.com had a chance to speak with Monty Montgomery, Thomas' uncle, this week. Montgomery confirmed that Thomas (who declined comment) is headed to Durham for an unofficial visit that just so happens to coincide with the UNC-Duke game.

"It's an unofficial visit just to go down there and continue to check things out," Montgomery said. "They've always said that they're interested in him and whenever he wants to make a decision if he wants to come there they'll take him. They've continued to maintain an interest in him. There's never any rushing."

Ok, so next up is the Duke visit that much is clear. After that, Thomas' situation gets a little dicey. Montgomery confirmed that the 4 main players are Duke, Rutgers, Arizona and Florida. Louisville, which got involved 2 months ago, is trying to move up the list but hasn't cracked the Top 4, according to Montgomery.

Obviously, the big news this week in regards to Thomas is the Rutgers situation. Gary Waters resigned and the common school of thought is that assistant Fred Hill will eventually assume control of the program.

According to Montgomery, Thomas has a good relationship with Hill who was the lead recruiter in the power forward's situation. "Lance has a very good relationship with Coach Hill and he also has a very good relationship with Coach Waters," Montgomery said. "Academically everything is intact and each school presents a vision. Part of the vision is getting a recruit to buy into the vision but when you start messing with the chemistry sometime it can be for the good and sometime for the bad. Whenever a successor is named he'll have to revisit the situation."

In regards to Rutgers, whether the coach is Hill or another candidate, one of the obstacles to overcome will be a situation in which Thomas and Montgomery were assured by Rutgers administrators that Waters was going to be the coach. The resignation, according to Montgomery, comes at a bad time in Thomas' recruitment.

"When Coach Waters was there Fred Hill was handling the recruiting. The vision he laid out was for Lance and whoever the new coach was going to be he said you'd have to sit down and see what the vision for the new coach was going to be. Everything was done with the way Coach Waters felt and what he was doing and saying. Whenever they do appoint a new head coach, whoever that may be, they'd have to sit down and see what that is at that time. Coach Hill has been handling Lance's recruitment but it's a bad time for the coaching change. A university has to do whatever is in the coach's best interest."

Montgomery said Rutgers' communication with Lance since the resignation has been limited but the staff has wisely remained in touch, as you would expect given the relationships that are already in place.

"The staff instructions were that they're still recruiting Lance and they would like to come there but they're still figuring out what is what. Coach Waters has turned all recruiting duties to Coach Jim Carr and Coach Hill.

"My talks with Coach Hill have been about recruiting – the same recruiting stuff that's been discussed from the beginning. The conversations have been strictly about recruiting. It's beyond everybody's control."

For now, it's off to Duke for an unofficial. What happens once the Rutgers situation plays itself out is anyone's guess. Expect Thomas to sit down and listen to a pitch from the new Rutgers coach but until that takes place everything else seems to be speculative.

"Until a new staff gets in place, you can't comment on the situation until you know what the vision of the new coach is."

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