Elijah Thomas: It's been going well, and we just have to finish strong. Everybody has to keep working hard in practice so we can finish well as a team, and we need to keep getting better and better in workouts since we're the youngest team on the EYBL.
How has your weight loss helped your game?
It helped it a lot. It gives me better ability to go up and down the court a lot more and stay in shape and I'm able to turn it on in the fourth quarter when my team needs me to.
You seem very vocal on the court, is that a natural role?
I've always been vocal, when I was younger though it wasn't positive vocal it was more negative vocal, like telling my teammates, you gotta do this, you gotta do that, I've worked on that because I wouldn't want people talking to me like that. Our team is a real family type team, everybody is vocal, if you don't talk, you miss things and we lose.
Where are you with your current height and weight?
I'm 6-foot-9, and 230 pounds.
What's your secret to losing the weight and keeping it off as you have set out to do?
We lift, we run, we run stairs, do pushups, and sit-ups. It's just being dedicated to your body and being in the gym every day because you can't get satisfied when you play, you have to want to be challenged.
How much are you paying attention to the coaches on the sidelines at events?
I'll look at them before the game starts and during halftime but during the game, but I'm focused on what's happening on the court to make sure myself and my teammates are locked in. I'm going to be a leader on this team for the next few years, have to make sure we play right.
What's your mom think about the recruiting process?
She thinks it's pretty cool, she taught me how to play, and she thinks it's pretty cool to see what's happening, it's a real blessing for us.
How does she handle the recruiting process?
She asks the questions to the coaches to see where they are. Really, she's herself, and she's not going to be a different person when she's talking with them. She's going to ask the questions she wants to ask and get an idea about the coaches and the family atmosphere at the colleges.
What kind of questions do you guys have with the coaches?
How big a family is there college, do the coaches take care of the players, what do they do academically, what are the relationships like between the players and the coaches on and off the court, how much do the coaches interact with the players off the court, how they can help me improve to be the best I can be.
Can you elaborate on what you mean by "coaches taking care of the players"?
Pretty much like don't lie to them in the recruiting process, and showing that you take care of the guys when you get there.
Have you seen any negative recruiting from any of the schools recruiting you?
No, not really because it'd be shady in my eyes. There are some who have said stuff every now and then about other colleges, but it's always been in a joking manner to me. Every coach always has positive things to say, all the schools recruiting me have good relationships with me and they all want what's best for me in my future.
Any examples of how the coaches joke on other schools?
Yeah, it's not really like a negative thing, it was like a joking thing, like the color of a school, or like a conference, it'll be like oh you want to play in the Big 12, why not the Big 10, stuff like that.
If a school were to negatively recruit hear, would it be a big deal?
It would, but then again I wouldn't focus too much on it. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so I can't say anything bad or negative about it.
Do you have any schools that you feel very strongly about?
I feel strongly about every school, they are all making a good effort to show me they want me to come be a part of their program and you can tell they care about me as a person.
Has any school had a really unique pitch to you?
They all have unique, they all have unique ways of presenting themselves and their programs. Like if a coach gives me a great quote that stands out, stuff like that sticks with me.
What's been your favorite quote so far?
Yeah it was last night, actually. Last night I had a really good quote that stuck with me. It was with Coach Capel from Duke. The conversation was about learning how to say no, and just being your own person and not worrying about other people's opinion because at the end of the day, you are the person playing basketball. People will give negative opinions, it doesn't matter. The quote he gave me stuck with me.
How often do you talk with Coach Capel?
We talk very often, at least three times every month. I talk with all the coaches there, I always call them, they always give me good advice, I always talk with them.
Anything else stand out from last night's talk with Coach Capel?
Yeah, him giving me life lessons, giving me guidance, that really stood out because you have to learn how to say no in some situations, you need to learn how to do that.
How strong is Duke's interest in you would you say?
It's very strong, and they are all recruiting me. I've talked with every coach on the staff including Coach K. I talked with him like right before the Hampton EYBL. He told me that he watched me play against Mac Irvin Fire against Cliff Alexander and he said in every game you can take away something that's positive and negative and he said that you always want the negative to be more like a positive if you can. He told me to keep my head even if we lose because he knows I hate losing and he saw my face after we lost a game and he said it's great to be competitive but don't beat yourself up. I missed a key free throw at the end of the game and it rimmed in and out and I was mad at myself. He told me to not to get down on myself if I don't make a play, to just get back on defense and be ready to make another play because the ball might come back to you and not every shot is going to go in, you just gotta keep playing. It's always good advice from him.
What did you take away from that conversation?
Now I realize that not every shot is going to go in, and like I said, he gives me really good advice, they all challenge me, every coach recruiting me knows I'm a big kid and I'm going to be myself.
Do you know where do you stand with a Duke offer at this point?
You know, I'm not sure. I'm really not sure. Like I said, I'm not really big on the whole offer thing, I mean, I talk with them all the time and they know I'm really interested.
Have they framed it as if you want to come to Duke they would welcome you, or is there another pitch?
I'm not sure, really. They've talked about that stuff with my mom, they come to my school a lot and the last time they came, they talked with my mom for like a few hours. I'm sure the scholarship is there, it's just I haven't heard it formally that I have a scholarship to Duke in that way.
The last time they visited with your mom, what did they say?
Yeah, the last time they came, they talked with her for several hours straight. It was Coach Wojo and Coach K. It was about a month or two ago.
What other schools are showing you really strong interest?
SMU, Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, Baylor, Texas A&M, Florida, USC, Louisville, Oklahoma, OK State, aw man, Arizona, UCLA, Alabama, Georgetown, the list goes on and on. All those schools have offered, Duke is the only school that hasn't said on the phone, you have a scholarship offer to me.
How big a consideration is it for you that Duke hasn't formally offered as you described?
It's a consideration, but it just keeps me motivated. They know my style, and they just know what I told them in the past when I was younger, and they just know that for me and them for me to know if I have a scholarship offer, it just keeps me motivated, keeps me working hard.
What's motivating for you about not having the formal offer from Duke?
I wouldn't say that it's motivating to not have it…I just think it's something everybody wants. It's not something that I work hard to try and have because I've already worked hard, it's just something about the way they recruit you because they want you to come down for a visit and so that's why I'm trying to line up a visit there.
Are you lining up a Duke visit soon?
Oh yes, I'm definitely taking one this summer. I'm not sure when, it might be before or after the Peach Jam.
What's the rest of your summer look like?
I'm going to the Amare Camp, and the LeBron camp for sure.
Visit wise is Duke it for the summer or are there other schools you are trying to line up?
I'm not sure at this point for any other school.