Thomas Finds the Best Fit

Johnny Thomas was looking for that feeling. He had several high-major offers on the table, but he was hoping to find that place that fit him the best and after meeting Sidney Lowe on multiple occasions, he realized that place was NC State.

Johnny Thomas was looking for that feeling. He had several high-major offers on the table, but he was hoping to find that place that fit him the best and after meeting Sidney Lowe on multiple occasions, he realized that place was NC State.

"I had it down to NC State and Virginia Tech, and I committed to NC State," said Thomas. "They are similar schools in regards to academics, and the only thing that will be different is how they play the game. I just felt I would fit NC State better and with them being in-state I think it was a better fit for me.

"The deciding factor was that I could fit in the program at State. Another big factor was coach Lowe. He's a great guy. I enjoyed being around him. I got to sit down and talk to him and get to know and him and he's the type of guy that I would fit in well with."

Thomas called Lowe to notify him of his decision following the 2006 State Games. He stated that Lowe was very happy to have landed his first recruit in the 2007 class.

"He was excited... he was very excited," said Thomas. "He was excited because I was the first guy in my class to commit there, and he said he wanted me to come in and be the player that he knows I can be. I'm going to be that aggressive wing he's looking for."

As a junior, Thomas led Greensboro (NC) Day to the state title after averaging nearly 19 points and nine boards. At 6-foot-5 and 210-pounds, he projects as a small forward on the next level. Thomas compares his game to two other former North Carolina prep standouts, and two players who had outstanding college careers: Raleigh (NC) Enloe native and Texas Longhorn P.J. Tucker and former Wake Forest star and current Dallas Maverick Josh Howard.

"My game has been compared to P.J. Tucker and [Josh] Howard," said Thomas. "I can play like Tucker because I can battle inside, I'm aggressive, and hit the glass hard, but on the outside I'm more like Howard because I'm long and athletic and can hit the 3-pointer like him. I think I'm versatile and can defend different types of players."

"My game has been compared to P.J. Tucker and [Josh] Howard."

Thomas visited NC State several times over the past couple of weeks, looking to get more familiar with the university. He toured the facilities, met with Wolfpack coaches, and brought his parents up for a tour of the campus. He also had a chance to talk with a couple of NC State players.

"I talked to a couple of their players, and they say they like it a lot there," said Thomas. "They just like the way that coach Lowe is going to be coaching and how great of a guy he is. That's what I'm looking for. I wanted to see if the players could relate to the coach and liked being around the coach."

Thomas burst on the scene after a strong showing at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions where he earned all-tournament honors. Interest picked up and he received offers from George Washington, Miami, Virginia Tech, and NC State. Having the chance to stay in-state and play for an ACC school played a vital role in his decision.

"I didn't have a problem with leaving the state but once I had this opportunity I looked at it really close," said Thomas. "When I found out that NC State was a place I could be at, I decided that I wanted to be there."

With his recruitment complete, Thomas admits he will continue working on his game to try and become a more complete player. Recruited to play small forward by the Wolfpack, Thomas mainly played post as a junior and his game is still evolving.

"It's a big commitment that I had to do, and I'm glad it's over," he said. "It was stressful at times, but now I can focuse on my team and academics. "I'm just going to get in the gym and keep working. I'm going to keep my grades up, but I'm going to get in the gym and work on my ballhandling. That way I can be one of the players that can go out there and perform early."

Thomas is also looking to lead Day High School to another state title as a senior.

"I love my team," he said. "I think we fit in well together and that's the team that I've been playing with for a year now. I feel it's the best team I've ever played on,and coach Johnson is a great coach."

He will finish out the AAU circuit with the North Carolina Gaters, as he has two local tournaments in early July. A true team player, Thomas turned down an invitation to the ABCD camp so he can play in an upcoming tournament with the Gaters.

As his focus shifts from recruiting to just playing basketball, Thomas can't hide how happy he is about his decision.

"I'm very happy," he said. "It's a great opportunity for me, and I'm ready to make the most of it."


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