While at the LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, the nation's No. 8 prospect overall re-affirmed his verbal commitment to become a member of the Buckeyes' 2010 recruiting class. But as it turns out, for Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers, small forward DeShaun Thomas, that decision has as much to do with the state of the OSU program as it does the state of Indiana's.
With the Hoosiers facing what can only be described as difficult times as best with pending NCAA punishments forthcoming and nearly an entirely new roster to play under a new head coach this season, Thomas decided the Buckeyes were his best bet.
"If the Indiana program was in a little bit better shape, I would've waited on Indiana," Thomas told BuckeyeSports.com. "I think I would've been a great little fit in there, but the program is just not right right now."
As a result, Thomas made the decision to become a Buckeye about three or four weeks ago by his estimation, ending a complicated time period for the prospect. Although he initially issued a verbal commitment to the program in June 2007, the 6-6½, 210-pound prospect remained noncommittal for the following year when asked about his recruitment status.
Facing pressure to stay within state borders and play for IU head coach Kelvin Sampson, Thomas admitted to being pulled in several different directions.
"It's been a little hard because people have been in my ear talking about, ‘It's a good decision' and then some people are like, ‘Wait, it's too early to make a decision, wait until you get there. What if they aren't treating you right like you wanted?' " he said. "Some people said it was a good decision and some people said it wasn't. I was kind of stressing out, but they treat me like a family down there."
That family-like atmosphere was one of the biggest things that helped sell Thomas on the Buckeyes. While he continued to look around despite having offered what was considered in some circles as a "soft verbal" commitment to Matta, the Indiana program began to fall apart.
And as time went on, Thomas noticed one school paying the most attention to him out of all the others.
"They've been on me," he said of OSU. "They've been making sure that I do this, they're making sure I keep my grades up. They've just really been on me. Plus, I like it down there. It's like a family.
"All I got (from other schools) were little letters, but Thad Matta was calling me and stuff like that."
Although Thomas said he was surprised with the lack of contact from other schools, it helped him to make certain of his final decision.
Not even the departure of OSU associate head coach John Groce – whom Thomas described as "my guy no matter what" – to Ohio University was enough to make him change his mind.
With Thomas verbally in the fold, he joins a class of 2010 that also includes five-star prospect Jared Sullinger, the nation's No. 1 center prospect as ranked by Scout.com. Both Thomas and Sullinger are ranked within the top eight prospects in the country.
Thomas said he feels the class could eventually rival one that helped propel the Buckeyes to the 2006-07 national championship.
For now, Thomas will focus on his upcoming season without having to worry about the pressures of selecting a college.
"I'm 100 percent committed," he said. "I'm there."