Quentin Thomas Game Observations

Oakland, Calif. – Quentin Thomas had little difficulty in leading his Oakland Tech team to a convincing win over St. Elizabeth's last week. The future Tar Heel used his diverse floor game to engineer an 83-52 victory over the cross-town opponent.

It was never really a contest, as Oakland Tech jumped out to a huge lead and didn't look back. Thomas was the primary reason for that lead, as he began the game inspired and set the tone from the outset. In the first four or five minutes, he took complete control without taking a single shot. He swarmed on defense, pouncing on ball-handlers and swiping at passes. He pressured intensely, and had no fear that anyone could dribble around him (they couldn't). He seemed to have a deceptive quickness into the passing lanes, lying in wait and hiding his length, and then springing out for deflections and steals. In fact, he often went so hard after passes that he took himself out of the play entirely.

That kind of unbridled aggressiveness on defense was counterbalanced by a cool ease on offense. Instead of pressing or forcing play, he just steadily controlled the flow. His court-vision is remarkable – the kind that doesn't rely on eyes, but on instincts. He is definitely a "pass-first" type of point guard, as was demonstrated by the lasers he guided around the court to open teammates. Credit them for being able to handle most of those passes, and for being good enough shooters to convert. Barely five minutes into the game, Thomas had six assists. He finished with seventeen, to only two turnovers.

He was not at all concerned with scoring points (of which he had 13), almost to a fault. He passed up so many shots early on, that I had to wonder about his jumper. When he finally dusted it off late in the first half, it was evident that he certainly needs to work on that aspect of his game. He shoots it with good elevation, but with a slow and somewhat labored release. He missed all four three-pointers he attempted, though none missed badly. Clearly though, he is more comfortable running the break and setting up his teammates, or even taking it to the hole. And he has no problem finishing above the rim, as he showed on a couple of crowd-pleasing alley-oops.

Despite being such an explosive athlete and the biggest player on the floor (both teams were small), Thomas seemed reluctant to engage contact or even crash the boards at all. When shots went up, he was often content to let his smaller teammates mix it up underneath while he stood flat-footed and observed patiently from outside the key. It's likely that some of that had to do with the fact that it was a blowout from the start, and some of his aggressiveness had waned, as well as the fact that as a guard he needed to be ready to get back on defense.

Once the game was well in hand (by the end of the first quarter!), it appeared as though Thomas turned it down a few notches. He maintained fairly good defensive intensity throughout the game, but he stopped attacking on offense except for in small spurts. He almost seemed embarrassed by the ease with which he dominated the outgunned opponents.

His court demeanor was one of quiet leadership, and he pushed the focus onto his teammates in a completely selfless manner. He seemed to be rooting for them to score and to have a good time in general. He gave subtle words of encouragement and direction, was in constant communication with his coaches, and even smiled and joked with the refs. Judging by the way he carried himself, he reminded me an awful lot of Antawn Jamison – a likeable player and a likeable person. Which is why it seemed a bit out of character for him to do a shimmy and shake after a beautiful spin-move between two defenders and over another, for the lay-up and the foul.

All in all, it was a very encouraging showing by Quentin Thomas. Carolina fans should enjoy following his promising career in the years to come.

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