Ralph Jackson knows all about growing up in Inglewood, California. He starred in basketball at Inglewood High School before matriculating at UCLA. Recruited by Larry Brown, Jackson played a year under Brown and three years under Larry Farmer. Ralph has served as a summer league coach now for seven years. Therefore, he has seen a lot of the top west coast players for many years.
"I can't believe that UCLA and USC let Doug Thomas get away from the west coast. Iowa absolutely stole a player from under their eyes. Doug Thomas is no project. He can play right now," said Jackson.
"He's a different type of player with tremendous athletic ability, but raw skills. He has a good shooting touch when he is facing the basket out to 15 feet. However, he is raw in his moves in the block. He needs additional time to learn the low post moves", added Jackson.
When I asked Coach Jackson if Thomas' leaping ability makes him a monster on the boards, he said, "He relies too much on his raw athletic talent rather than getting good position and blocking out. He just thinks that he can out jump everybody."
As most high school players are deficient on the defensive end of the court, I was somewhat surprised by Jackson's response when I asked if Doug plays defense. "He is just average in his on the ball defense. However, his weak side defense is outstanding. He is quick to help out and is a great shot blocker. Doug can really run the court so he has the skills necessary to become a very proficient all around defensive player. In addition, he passes the ball well. He is very unselfish and a great teammate."
Since there have been many questions raised about Doug's background of anger management problems, I was eager to address this issue. "He has always been a fiery player and he reacted badly several times in high school. However, he was not mature enough at that time to dismiss the taunts of older opponents. The difference in Doug between last year and now is incredible. His demeanor now is like night and day compared to last year," added Jackson
Coach Jackson didn't stop with that comment either as he had plenty to say about Doug's prep school. "The coaches and staff at Faith Christian Academy have done an outstanding job of working with Doug. They have helped him in far more than just basketball".
Like most writers I always like to save the best for last. I was expecting to be regaled with stories about Thomas' dunking and leaping ability. "When he gets the ball in a breakaway situation, as Tony Soprano would say, ‘Fughedaboutit'. He stole the ball in a recent game, took two dribbles from the top of the key before slamming it home. This was not a solo shot either, as he was in traffic at the time."
When asked the sixty-four dollar question, whether Doug had achieved a passing ACT test score, Ralph responded by saying "I don't know for certain. However, I know that he is planning on going to Iowa City in August. I just haven't asked him that question. Call back in a couple of days and I will tell you."
His answer will appear on the Hawkeye InsideEdge Premium Board.
From all appearances, Doug Thomas sounds like an outstanding catch for the Black & Gold. Thomas is lucky to have had a year with Otho Lyons and his staff at Faith Christian Academy in North Carolina. However, Doug has also benefited greatly from his association with Ralph Jackson in the Los Angeles summer league.