Copyright by Global Electronics Telecommunications, publishers of IrishEyes™
Future Without Thomas
By Alan Tieuli
The sophomore point guard will investigate the process of declaring
early for the NBA Draft over the next several weeks. It may lead to nothing, particularly
since most feel Thomas' total game is not ready for the next level. But, as head coach Mike Brey said with complete sincerity, "Who
knows what can happen? You just never know
with kids in this age of college basketball."
Thomas scored 20 points and had five assists in Notre Dame's
humbling 88-71 loss to top-seed
Almost two years to the day,
Will Thomas, who said he was
"I'll leave those questions to coach right now,"
Thomas said. "Him and I will sit down and talk about it."
Minutes earlier, Thomas was typically upbeat during the formal news
conference following the game, cracking one-liners about Torin Francis' new found three-point shooting
ability. He seemed to indicate a return to
Brey was seated to Thomas' right when he heard those words and
warned not to read too much into the comment.
"I don't think you can count on that," Brey said to
IrishEyes when asked if he thought Thomas was locked in on returning. "A young man of
his ability, the way it is now, we'll sit down and evaluate his future and how he
wants to go about it. I think he needs to
leave some doors open and check out some options.
"We talked about it a little bit.
He needs to explore it," Brey continued. "He owes it to himself to
explore it. He loves his teammates. He looks at Torin and thinks we can be pretty good
next year. But I think it's something you
go through in the spring. We've gone
through it before with Troy Murphy, and we will again this year."
Murphy, excelling in his second NBA season with the Golden State
Warriors – averaging a near-double in points and rebounds – left the Irish
following his junior season, 2000-01. He also
weighed it heavily after his sophomore year.
Senior guard Matt Carroll
is a pretty sure bet to have his name called at the June 26 draft at Madison Square
Garden. He was close to Murphy and also considers Thomas a good friend. He said he'll be glad to play a part in Thomas'
decision making process.
"I want Chris to do what's best for Chris," Carroll told IrishEyes. "I'm not sure of that decision yet, and I guess he has to feel it out and see what's best. I'm going to be here to give him my advice and what I think is best for him. I care about him and love him like a brother, so I'm going to try and help him as a friend."
Thomas has until May 12 to declare early and then can withdraw his
name up to June 19, as long as he doesn't sign with an agent.
Francis, who has a leg up on being an All-Big East performer next
season after averaging 17.6 points and 12.6 rebounds in three NCAA Tournament games, has
not discussed next year with his point guard.
"We really haven't," he said. "We've been so
focused on this year. But definitely the next
couple of weeks it will be on everybody's mind."
Without Thomas, Notre Dame would likely turn to Chris Quinn as its full-time point guard in
2003-04. With another daunting non-conference
schedule and a potential realignment of the Big East, with each team playing every other
school at least once, the Irish could be hard-pressed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament
But perhaps this is all to do about nothing.
"I see Chris being attracted to players like