TDD Spotlight: Lance Thomas

After hopping in the car and driving a little over 10 hours and then going straight to the court for his opening game at the 2005 Tournament of Champions, it was no wonder that top 15 target Lance Thomas wasn't at his best. However, the 6-foot-8 New Jersey native was still good enough to impress the onlookers Friday night. Afterwards, he spoke at length with

Sporting a serious tape job on his right ankle and calf, Lance Thomas was lacking lift on Friday night as New Heights faced off against the Smryna Stars of Georgia. And though he 6-foot-8 combo forward still managed 13 points, 11 rebounds, and a pair of steals, it wasn't enough as New Heights fell 59-49.

"I was working out at school and stepped on a cone and took a fall," said Thomas of the injury. "It was pretty swollen for a while, and it's still pretty sore, but I've got to play through that kind of thing, and help my team as best I can."

It's safe to say that without Thomas, the New York squad would have been blown out of the gym, after falling behind by as many as 21 early in the second half. That's when Thomas went to work, attacking the basket and working inside to earn trips to the free throw line.

"That's something I've worked really hard on over the past year," said Thomas. "Last year I would settle for mid range jumpers, but now I can use either hand and attack the basket. I'm able to take bigger guys off the dribble and score over smaller defenders."

Thomas certainly had his chance to display his talents against both big and small opponents as the Georgia team sent players ranging from 6-foot-6 and 200 pounds to one who, according to the media guide, tips the scales at over 260lbs and stands just over 6-foot-5. Either way, Thomas believes he can earn the upper hand.

"I like facing different kinds of players, because that ultimately makes me a much better player overall. I need to continue to work to become a more and more versatile player if I'm going to be an impact player at the next level."

Certainly he's shown enough versatility to earn the attention of several high major programs across the country and can rattle off a list of schools as impressive as any of his peers.

"The list is so long right now, that I know I can't name them all. But right now if I had to name seven it would be Duke, Arizona, Florida, Villanova, Connecticut, Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest. All of them have offered at this point, and that's an honor in itself."

Speaking of the Blue Devils, Thomas is looking forward to visiting the Duke campus and the Duke coaching staff on an unofficial visit this weekend if time permits.

"I'm really looking forward to catching up with Coach K and the staff and seeing what they are thinking. I know they just got three great players last week, and are looking to take one more."

Indeed, the commitments of Jon Scheyer, Brian Zoubek, and Gerald Henderson were big for Duke, and now it would seem that the Blue Devils are interested in either Thomas or Tennessee big man Brandan Wright.

"Right now they are telling me that they'd love for me to come in and round out the class, but I understand they have to keep their options open too. They are the top program in the country and they have so many great players wanting to go there, that they have to look everywhere. Wright is a great player and they would be lucky to land him. Who knows, maybe we could both go to Duke if they had room."

Recent recruiting scuttlebutt had both Wright and Thomas reportedly looking at the Duke commitments and becoming a bit wary of available playing time in Durham. However, like Wright, Thomas says that has no factual basis. In fact Thomas says he feels comfortable with Duke's thought process.

"I talk to Duke a lot these days. They can only call me so much, but I call them a bunch just to stay in touch and up to date with Coach K. I think it would be terrific if I rounded our their class, and I think we'd be a strong pick as the best class in the country, but I'm not in any rush to commit at this point."

In fact Thomas says a commitment probably won't happen until the early part of his school season this fall, and that commitment will be based on a few important factors.

"Right now I see myself as more of a three-four or a four-three. Definitely someone who can play either position on any trip down the floor. I need to continue to work on my outside accuracy and shooting technique and my ball handling as well. I'm also working to add weight and get stronger, but the main thing I need to do is continue to develop the ability to out-think my opponent."

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