A Man Among Boys

<p>Illini-Nation took time to chat with Chicago Westinghouse junior DeAndre Thomas and his coach Quitman Dillard. Read here to find out what schools he's hearing from and how his season is going

DeAndre Thomas is a load to contain on the low blocks. Only a high school junior, this class of 2005 recruit has his way with opposing teams. At first sight, one wonders if Thomas can carry his weight. He looks like a shorter version of Eddy Curry or Zach Randolph. When Thomas steps onto the court, however, he quickly puts those questions to rest. Westinghouse coach Quitman Dillard has been very pleased with Thomas play saying "he's a load every time he comes to play, when he allows the system to work for him. It's when he tries to go after his own thing, that's when he's not successful." For his size, Thomas has some of the quickest and best footwork on a big man. "I wanna say he's around 260 pounds, I want him to get down to about 240. If he gets down to 240 there will be nobody in the state that can stop him." coach Dillard said. Thomas refuted by saying "I'm about 230 or 240. Coach has already run that off me. Once school started he ran that off."

Thomas is a warrior on the low blocks. In the high school game, sometimes the big men don't work hard enough to get the ball, and often settle for jump shots. Not Thomas, he makes a living on the low blocks overpowering his opponents. Thomas is also constantly calling for the ball making sure the guards are aware of his mismatch on the low post.

DeAndre Thomas has many strengths to his game. First of all, he has pure brute strength. Not many college kids have the build that Thomas has. Thomas also has a soft shooting touch. He is most effective down low but can also pull out and hit the 10 footer. The last thing I liked about him was his warrior like mentality. Thomas never gives up on a play and is always playing with 100% effort.

Thomas does have weaknesses. He still has lots of baby fat that limit his mobility, he tends to get in foul trouble too quickly, and he doesn't necessarily elevate too high for a 6'7 power forward. Those would be the 3 glaring things that college coaches would consider when recruiting Thomas.

Still it sounds as if the recruiting process is going quite well for Thomas. "I'm hearing from everybody, especially Illinois, Purdue, and Louisville. Most schools in the Big 10," Thomas says. Currently he says he has no leaders and will let the process play out in the next year.

It remains to be seen where Thomas fits exactly into the Illinois recruiting puzzle for 2005. Illinois is after an assortment of big men including out of state studs David Palmer from Tennessee, Luke Zeller from Indiana, and Tyler Hansbrough of Missouri. Illinois is also after Illinois boys Julian Wright, Josh Tabb, Jerel McNeal, Jamar Smith, Angel Santiago, and Bobby Frasor.

Thomas with a dunk

Nice touch photos by Michael Bates

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