It doesn’t matter what Lance Thomas sinks his teeth into, he is going to strive for excellence. Whether the 6-8 junior WF from Newark (NJ) St. Benedict’s is focusing on school -- where he maintains a near 3.6 GPA -- or whether it is on the basketball court, nobody is ever going to question his effort level.
Because of his hard work and production on the basketball court, Thomas has developed into one of the premier recruits in the class of 2006. His uncle and mentor, Monty Montgomery, isn’t surprised.
“Lance Thomas is a competitor,” Montgomery told Phog.net. “He takes pride in everything that he does. He knows that he’s not going to achieve anything in life unless he’s willing to work as hard as he can in academics, athletics or whatever he puts his mind to.”
All you have to do is watch Thomas play one time and you know that his uncle isn’t just spewing out hyperbole. Few in the class of 2006 -- or any class for that matter -- can match Thomas’ intensity, versatility and work ethic on the basketball court.
He has developed into a good enough ball-handler that he’s played the point for stretches on the high school level. He’s a ferocious rebounder on both ends of the court, finds ways to score in just about any situation and is capable of guarding a big man or a perimeter player.
“My nickname for him is five star general,” said Montgomery. “He can do it all out there and is capable of playing one through five if you need him to.”
So far on the season Thomas is averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds a game as he’s helped lead St. Benedict’s to a 15-1 record. Thanks to the numbers he’s put up against a very competitive schedule and the work he’s put in during the summer, Thomas has some of college basketball’s elite calling on him.
Among the schools who are in hot pursuit are Arizona, Georgia Tech, Kansas, UConn, Florida, Miami, Villanova and St. John’s among others. The plan was to cut the list down to five, but they haven’t been able to do so just yet.
“We’re going to start working on the list real soon, it’s been taking longer than expected because he’s focusing on improving as a player,” said Montgomery. “When we cut it down we’ll be looking for wherever puts him in the best position both academically and athletically.”
According to Montgomery, Thomas is wide open and no school shares any kind of lead at this point. However, they are looking closely at who each school has and making sure that he’ll have the opportunity to play the wing. By the same token, they also know that they can’t expect anything to be given to them and that Thomas will have to produce.
“I try to tell him that it is like a business, a coach’s job is to win basketball games and that’s what they get paid to do,” said Montgomery. “Any school will take Lance because of what he can do, but he also knows that if he doesn’t do what’s expected of him he won’t play.”
“Kansas has shown great interest in Lance and they are definitely a school that’s a possibility,” said Montgomery. “They certainly watched him during the summer and have showed their interest recently.”
As Thomas looks to narrow his list, Montgomery and the rest of his close knit family will be there to support him each step of the way. His uncle knows that some may question his role, but it is obvious he is involved in the recruiting process because his nephew wants him to be and that he only has Thomas’ best interest at heart on and off the court.
“I’m just happy that he’s chasing his dream,” said Montgomery. “This is all about what Lance wants to do, this isn’t about me at.
“If he wanted to quit the game tomorrow, he could and we’d be there to help him put the basketball shoes in the closet and move on to whatever he wants to do in life.”
Luckily, Thomas doesn’t appear to be putting away his sneakers in the near future and according to his uncle the best is yet to come.
“The best of Lance Thomas hasn’t been seen yet, and he’s still humble and hungry to get better.”