Jacob Thomas Off to Junior Year Strong Start

Jacob Thomas, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound junior from Columbia Heights, has attracted attention from several Division I schools, including Minnesota. Gopher head coach Tubby Smith watched Thomas and Minnesota commit Rodney Williams Jr. square off Tuesday night. GoldenSports.Net recently caught up with Thomas to learn about his expectations for the year and the latest on his recruitment.

Jacob Thomas is averaging 17.7 points per game this season. He scored 22 points against Robbinsdale Cooper, despite shooting just seven of 28 from the field. He had 18 points versus Chisago Lakes and 13 against Benilde-St. Margaret's. Columbia Heights is off to a 1-2 start, but has faced top competition in Benilde-St. Margaret's, the defending Class AAA champion and Cooper, who finished fourth in Class AAAA last year. The slow start has not fazed his opinion of his team this season.

"My expectations are to go to state," Thomas said.

Thomas played with his Columbia Heights team in the Breakdown League at Bloomington Kennedy this fall. Thomas felt that the early-season play helped the team chemistry.

"It helped us tremendously because now everyone knows their roles - who does what and in what situations, how to keep ourselves together and keep our composure," he said.

Thomas and the Hylanders lack size, playing basically a five-guard offense that fits their style.

"We are doing a Phoenix Suns offense. Run, run, run. We don't really run a half-court offense, becuase we really don't have any big men running around. We run a full-court offense," he said.

Thomas often guards the opposition's biggest player, although they zone often.

"It is hard when they are bigger and stronger," he said. "We work really hard on the defensive end. I try to get my rest on the offensive end."

Thomas is also hearing from Colorado State, Northern Iowa and Wisconsin Green Bay, but has gotten some new interest.

"I've got a couple of new schools, like Purdue and Pittsburgh," he said.

Thomas averaged 21.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.1 assists per game last season. He shot 41% from the field, 34% from three-point range and 72% from the line. The Hylanders finished 13-14, a big improvement over a 4-21 mark the previous season.

Thomas attended the Minnesota Gopher Advanced Basketball Camp and their team camp. Hylander head coach Willie Braziel said that Minnesota watched Thomas closely during their Advanced and team camp. Tubby Smith also watched Thomas at the recent St. Thomas Jamboree.

Braziel previously told GoldenSports.Net that Thomas had caught the Gopher coaches' eyes.

"The Gophers wanted to see him handle the ball," he said. "He has got to get stronger, but he can shoot the lights out. He won four or five games by himself. He is a good kid, a likable kid who comes from a good family. He wants to attend the 'U' and likes the 'U.'"

Thomas played for the Howard Pulley 16-and-under AAU team and will move up to the top 17-and-under team next spring.

Braziel previously said that his star guard has plenty of strengths as a player.

"He has great instincts and a wonderful shot. He has a great stroke and a fluid motion in his jump shot," Braziel said.

Braziel said that Thomas is working hard to improve himself as a player.

"He needs to improve defensively. He took plays off as a sophomore," he said.

His strong play last year is made even more impressive by the fact that he did not play as a freshman.

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