TaShawn Thomas immediately eligible for OU

Senior forward will play against Southeastern Louisiana in opener

The NCAA has ruled forward TaShawn Thomas immediately eligible to play for the Sooners, Oklahoma announced Saturday. The injection of Thomas into the lineup makes the Sooners significantly better.

"We're really pleased for TaShawn," Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said in a press release. "He's worked really hard to be on course to graduate in May, and this gives him an opportunity to finish his degree and his eligibility concurrently. We're very happy to be adding an experienced player to an already veteran group."

Kruger added that Thomas will play Sunday against Southeastern Louisiana.

He will likely start alongside preseason All-Big 12 honorable mentioned forward Ryan Spangler, giving Oklahoma an ultra-athletic frontcourt. Thomas, who said waiting for a decision was the hardest thing he’d ever have to do, enters alongside the addition of freshmen Jamuni McNeace and Khadeem Lattin, giving Oklahoma five players listed at 6-foot-7 or taller.

“He’s a lot like Ryan in terms of work ethic and blue collar and gets after it every day,” Kruger said this summer. “. . . Certainly, we want him eligible right away, and we would benefit from that.”

Thomas had been working with the starters in practice and during a 5-on-5 scrimmage Thursday, almost in preparation to be a starter when the Sooners’ season begins Nov. 16 against Southeast Louisiana.

Thomas was Houston’s leading scorer and rebounder last season, starting all 33 games and becoming only the seventh player in school history to recorded more than 1,300 points and 800 rebounds.

In three years at Houston, Thomas started 96 games and had been one of the best player in Conference USA for the past two seasons.

He finished his junior year with 15.4 points and 13.6 rebounds per game but left Houston after former coach James Dickey resigned in March. Thomas said he no longer felt comfortable and jumped at the chance to come to Oklahoma, a team he played during his freshman season.

In Oklahoma, Thomas said he found a coaching staff that he liked and a style of play that fit him.

“When I'm playing up-tempo that when I'm playing my best,” he said. “I feel like here, I can be in tip-top shape and play at the best of my abilities.”

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