Early Race for Thomas

Locally in the Ft. Wayne area, DeShaun Thomas is being compared to LeBron James. With that kind of hype, it's no wonder teams like Indiana, Ohio State and Florida have gotten in on the 6-7 freshman already. Thomas was watched closely by the Hoosiers and Buckeyes this past weekend in Akron. Find out more about Thomas in the early stages of his budding recruitment.

DeShaun Thomas did about all he could do. He rebounded, made three-pointers, blocked shots and put down some wicked dunks.

But his best just wasn't good enough.

In the first round of the elimination tournament in the 15-under division Saturday afternoon at the King James Classic in Akron, Thomas' team the Indiana Elite Ft. Wayne Flames were quickly eliminated by a talented Ferrari club from Chicago, 52-47. It wasted an all-out effort from Thomas, who was too frustrated to deal with any reporters after the game.

"When he gets like this, he doesn't like to talk," joked Thomas' coach Leroy Nard. "I guess it's a good thing that he takes it seriously."

Thomas did his usual thing. The 6-7 wing forward from Ft. Wayne Bishop Luers High School is already one of the prominent names in the country for the class of 2010.

Thomas averaged 27 points and 15 rebounds as a freshman, drawing offers from Indiana and Ohio State - his presumed favorites. In fact, Saturday against Ferrari, assistant coaches Ray McCallum (Indiana) and John Groce (Ohio State) were among the spectators for his last game of the weekend.

"They've shown a lot of interest," added Nard. "A lot of teams are interested right now. Florida has approached me and Purdue is showing interest. I've heard everybody wants him including the (Boston) Celtics."

This past fall, Thomas visited Ohio State for an early practice. He's also been on campus in Bloomington a few occasions.

The lefty is touted as a future NBA lottery pick - a strong finisher inside with athleticism and the perimeter skills to score from the outside. He's expected to be a two or three at the next level.

"The sky is the limit for him," Nard said. "He's got a great basketball mind and that's what is going to excel him to the next level."

It goes without saying Thomas is a competitor. Noting he wants to win, Nard talked about his attitude on the court.

He said the display of emotion after the game was because the physical play frustrated Thomas to lengths he wasn't used to.

"Quite frankly, Indiana ball is a lot different - they call it a lot different in Indiana," Nard explained. "A bump or hand-check. When we're kind of bumped and grabbed we expect to get those calls."

Nard cited the ball-handling of Thomas as the single most important thing he develop over the next few years.

Until then, Thomas must handle the growing pressure that is attached with his expectations.

"He's very grounded," Nard concluded. "He's really matured from last year to this year so much that he's focused and he understands it's a ways away. He's not letting it get to him."


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