``When I was younger, I always used to come in second," said the 6-7 ½, 210-pound junior. "I used to run track and I'd always come in second. In basketball, I was always the second guy. I can't be in the shadow the rest of my life. I don't like second place."
Thomas is done playing in the shadow and it's not just because he and his sidekick, Derrick Caracter, both transferred to different high schools.
It's because Thomas has carved his own niche in the past six or so months.
Thomas played well enough with the New Heights program this past summer to have a college list that even Caracter would envy – Arizona, Duke, Georgia Tech, UConn, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Florida, Maryland, Rutgers, Syracuse and Georgia.
``I didn't expect the notoriety to come so soon," Thomas said. "It all came so fast that I want to take my time with my recruiting."
Thomas, who played alongside Caracter at Scotch Plains High (N.J.), will now be the center of attention for Dan Hurley at St. Benedict's (N.J.) while Caracter chose to return to St. Patrick's.
``I just wanted to get more of a challenge academically and I thought it was a better place for me to get focused for my future," Thomas said. "I'm capable of getting straight A's and that's not what I was getting at Scotch Plains."
Now Thomas, who has a 3.5 GPA, will focus on expanding his game as well as his skills in the classroom. The versatile forward, whose motor never stops on the court, is working on being able to defend smaller wing players and also trying to refine his ballhandling. Thomas is active on the boards, can knock down the mid-range jumper and also displays an unselfish game that endears him to his teammates.
``I'm still pretty much open, and haven't narrowed anything down," Thomas said. "The most aggressive schools in recruiting me are Arizona, Duke and Georgia Tech."