Thomas Eager to Get Back

Elijah Thomas is one of the most coveted big men in the country in the 2015 class. Though his action on the court was halted due to an injury to a tendon in his hand, his recruitment is still going full speed ahead. Get more on that here.

Elijah Thomas is one of the Illini's top frontcourt targets. The 6'9" center checks in at #12 in the national rankings and is considered among the best post players in the country. Thomas is being pursued by a long list of schools, and for good reason.

Thomas brings a lot of intriguing skills to the table. He is an elite low post scorer playing with his back to the basket. The Lancaster High School star creates space and gets deep post position by using his physicality and his body. His footwork is very good for a prospect of his size.

He can finish around the rim with both powerful dunks and a soft touch. The fundamentally-sound Thomas has also shown some potential as a face up player. He is a good post defender anchoring down low and is a solid rebounder.

Unfortunately he hasn't been able to do what he loves this spring, since he has been sidelined with the finger injury. He told us how it happened.

"It was April 10th," he said. "We were playing Mo Williams Elite. I went up for a dunk and a dude grabbed my jersey. I tore a tendon in my finger. I had a procedure called jersey finger surgery. I am out for another 6-8 more weeks and then I will be able to play again."

The big man says the rehab is ahead of schedule and he hopes to play in July should everything continue to go well.

"It is going well," he said. "I am healing better than they expected it to heal. I have a lot of exercises. Continuing to go to rehab three days a week so I can get back sooner than they expected me to."

As a junior, Thomas averaged 21 points and 12 rebounds per contest. It was a successful season for himself and his team despite coming up short of their ultimate goal.

"It went well," Thomas said of his season. "It could have been better though. We were a game away from winning state. We went 31-4 and finished #17 in the nation and #1 in the state. We just lost a game on our way to state."

Thomas improved in several areas of his game this past season. He highlighted a few of those.

"My conditioning (improved) most importantly," he said. "At my school, Lancaster High School, we are a well-conditioned team," he said. "I improved my ability to do more than just stand around the basket."

He continued, "I added a lot of versatility to my game by being able to grab the rebound and go the length of the court, step out and shoot jumpers, and I have worked on my floater to make it more consistent. I worked on my rebounding, my overall feel for the game, and on playing with a high intensity."

Thomas's recruitment has remained hot through his recovery. He recapped the schools he hears from on a regular basis.

"My recruitment is going well," he said. "It is actually going better than I thought it would at this point even though I am hurt. I hear from USC, UNLV, LSU, Illinois, Memphis, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, and UConn."

He recently narrowed his list down to 10 schools. Still, he may be open to a couple other schools not currently in his top 10.

"There are only two schools outside of the top 10 that I am in conversations with," he said. "That is LSU and Texas A&M. The rest I don't really want to give a chance due to the fact of those schools I named."

There was a recent rumor that Thomas had narrowed his list to three schools, but Thomas strongly refuted the talk.

"It is not true," he said. "There is a possibility that it could get to that point, but I am injured right now and that top three probably wouldn't even be a top three if I had it. I haven't visited the schools so I can't just narrow it down."

Thomas doesn't have any visits planned right now, but he did say visits would be important in his process of narrowing things down.

"Right now no (visits), but I plan on taking some unofficials before I start deciding on where I want to take my five official visits," he said. "At the end of July I plan on cutting it to six. I plan on signing in November."

His original plan was to decide this upcoming January, but he has moved that up to the early signing period, "Because I want to announce on the ESPNU Signing Day show."

Illinois is right there in the mix with Thomas and has made quite an impression on him, and he has relationships with several recruits with Illinois ties.

"My relationship is well," he said. "Coach Groce and Coach Walker they are in talks with not just me, but my family. They are recruiting Jawun (Evans) my best friend. D.J. Williams (Illini commit), I am really close with him. Leron Black I am cool with him. I am cool with a couple of the recruits and current players and also Maverick Morgan."

He continued, "It is a relationship that has been there since 9th grade. They were the second school to offer me. It is a really good relationship with them."

Thomas also explained how his game would fit in with the Illini.

"I think I fit in well due to my versatility and me not just being a five," he said. "When I get into a college conditioning program I will be able to play the three, four, and five because of my skill. I know my bread and butter is down low though."

Illinois is also recruiting his good friend and point guard target Jawun Evans. Would the school that lands Evans have the advantage?

"Most definitely," he asserted "The school he goes to will definitely push it more. Him or Admon Gilder. That is pretty much who I am looking to go to school with from my state."

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