"No, I wasn't on him before coming to NC State," said Lutz. "We knew we had some spots available so we went out and watched some players.
"I went over to watch Thomas right when I got here during the evaluation period. We were looking at a number of guys, and he is the one we really liked. We are very fortunate to be able to jump in this late and land a player of his caliber."
Program such as Wake Forest and Washington were in hot pursuit of De Thaey. He played this past season at the Canarias Basketball Academy in the Canary Islands, where he averaged over 15 points and eight boards per game.
He first burst on the scene last summer when he averaged 18.4 points and 6.8 rebounds playing, a year early, for Belgium in the European Under 20 Championships.
"We really think he can help us," said Lutz. "We think he can contribute as a freshman.
"Thomas has performed well in various competitions, and he is a big, strong kid who can also shoot the basketball very well. He's tough and can really shoot it."
Things certainly moved quickly in De Thaey's recruitment. Lutz went out to evaluate him and the NC State coaching staff also consulted with Canarias Basketball Academy head coach Rob Orellana. On May 18th, De Thaey made his decision official by signing a letter of intent with the Wolfpack.
"We are excited to have Thomas join our program," said Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried. "He is a very physical, yet skilled player who brings some toughness to our team. He's an excellent shooter who can make an immediate contribution."
|Thomas De Thaey|
¨Playing in the ACC and having the opportunity to learn from a staff that has over 30 years of head coaching experience on the D1 level was a very big factor in my decision," said De Thaey. ¨Coach Gottfried wants to build a program that will compete for the ACC Championship and I want to be a part of it."
¨This is a tremendous opportunity for Tom," said coach Orellana. "He has put himself in this position by working as hard as he has this year. North Carolina State is getting a tremendous kid with an unmatched work ethic. His ability to stretch the defense past the three-point line and make plays at his size will be a valuable asset for Coach Gottfried."
Listed at 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds, De Thaey will play power forward for the Wolfpack. His physical attributes and skillset seem to fit what the State coaches are looking for in a post player.
"He is going to be a forward for us," said Lutz. "I believe Thomas is a terrific fit in coach Gottfried's system. His ability to stretch the defense out to the three-point line and make plays will be beneficial to us.
"Now, he is a big forward. He is physical and likes contact, but he can also shoot the basketball. As I said, we believe he is a great fit for what we want to do, and we are happy to have signed him at this point in the process."
De Thaey will be playing again this summer with Belgium's national team in the European Under 20 Championships. The tournament, which is being held in Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina), starts on July 14th with the final game being played on July 24th.
Belgium is playing in Division B of the tournament and is in Group D with Israel, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, and Belarus. Belgium's first game is scheduled for July 14th against Belarus.
De Thaey will travel to Raleigh and enroll at NC State at the conclusion of the event. A member of the Wolfpack's 2011 class, he will enroll as a true freshman and has five years to play four seasons.