Bloomington, Ind. – DeShaun Thomas might be a 15-year-old teen, but in basketball terms he's clearly a man among boys.
That was clear Saturday morning at Assembly Hall when he guided the Indiana Elite 15-and-under team to a 64-59 come-from-behind win over the Queen City Prophets. The 6-7 ½, 210-pounder from Ft. Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers H.S. finished with a game-high 34 points and 16 rebounds and scored the go-ahead basket on a tip-in with 1:11 left. Ray McCallum, Jr. – the son of current IU assistant coach Ray McCallum – iced the game with a couple of free throws with :14.1 remaining to secure the tourney opening win.
After hitting just 1-of-4 3-point attempts in the opening half, Thomas' attention turned to dominating the paint in the game's final 16-minute half. He was 9-of-13 from the floor in the half, scoring on a variety of putbacks and baseline moves that helped Indiana Elite overcome a 37-29 halftime deficit.
"I wasn't hitting my outside shot, so coach told me to go in and crash the boards and play big," Thomas said.
He did that, and showed exactly why he's considered the top-ranked player in the 2010 recruiting class by just about every national recruiting service. While he's just one year into his high school career, he's already a well known name to just about every college basketball coach and recruiting aficionado.
That might be a lot for someone to handle at such a young age, but Thomas doesn't shy away from the attention.
"It's something I enjoy," Thomas said. "I don't get a big head. I just try to go out and play hard. I'm used to the attention and like it, especially from the younger kids."
While young kids are already inquiring about autographs, college coaches are already thinking a couple of years down the road about a signed national letter of intent. He might be 2 ½ years away from his first opportunity to sign with a college program, but he's hearing from plenty of programs.
"Really (I'm hearing from) everybody," said Thomas, who added he gets 2-3 recruiting letters per day. "Florida, Indiana, Purdue, North Carolina, Duke…everyone. But it's a long way off. I've got three more years of high school, so I've got a long time to think about it."
Indiana has been thinking about Thomas for some time. He said his first recruiting letter came from IU when Mike Davis was the head coach, arriving when he was a 6'3" sixth-grader.
"I was happy to get that first letter," Thomas said.
Davis has since departed and taken over the UAB program, but the current IU staff is every bit as committed to trying to keep the state and nation's best player in state. Thomas said he's been to three or four IU games in the past, and also participated in one of Kelvin Sampson's Elite Summer Camps last summer.
"He worked us hard," Thomas said. "It was cool – I hung with it and did my job."
DeShaun Thomas Scouting Report: Offensively the long-armed left hander pretty much is able to get whatever he wants. Settles for 3-pointers at times when he has physical edge over his foe, but clearly has 3-point range…positions himself for a ton of putback opportunities on the offensive glass…goes through the motions a bit at times (he said afterwards stamina is any area of emphasis during the AAU season), and didn't always run the floor extremely hard, particularly on defensive end…can be very physical at times and isn't afraid of delivering contact…positions himself on the block very well, seals his defender, and was able to score nearly at will in the final half.
AMC: Youngster Thomas Deals with Spotlight
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