'He has that gift of passing'

Quentin Thomas may not have been rated as high as guys like Shaun Livingston, Sebastian Telfair or even fellow west coast floor leader Jordan Farmar, but it may have been a product of his environment that recruiting gurus didn't think of him so highly.

"He's always sheltered his game to make his teammates look better," Thomas' summer coach Derek Smith said. "Ever since ‘Q' has been at (Oakland) Tech, he's never been the main man. First it was Armando Surratt (now at Miami) and then Leon Powe (a freshman at Cal) last year. He has never had to be the main. He just ran the show."

That's Thomas' biggest strength. His ability to get everyone involved and make solid decisions. He doesn't look for the limelight.

"He just makes the game easier for other people," Smith added. "He has that gift of passing. He'll fit in anywhere he goes because he's such a hard worker. I think he can play anywhere – even Carolina."

"What makes him so good is his court sense," Smith said. "You can't teach that. He's a step ahead of everyone else in what he sees – he sees the next pass before the next person. He's so coachable and will do whatever you ask. He's always worried about making his teammates better first and that's unique these days."

Smith has been coaching Thomas since he was little and has seen the growth in the laid-back Thomas – both on and off the court.

"This summer he broke out and learned he had to be more vocal," Smith said. "He never would say stuff before the summer, but he started showing more leadership. He still has to work on being more vocal as a point guard and learn to get on players' butts sometimes, but he's gotten better with all that."

However, Smith is not without criticism of his star player.

"He's got to work on his shot and needs to play more north-south than east-west. He's got a big upside and is going to get stronger. He's working with a personal trainer three days a week."

"I've been coaching the kid since elementary school and he's never thought he was better than any of his teammates," Smith said. "Sometimes I think he's sheltered his game to make his teammates look better."

You just don't find that. Not these days.

Inside Carolina Top Stories