SOR speaks with Quintrell Thomas

The Rutgers men's basketball team has two scholarships left for the class of '08, and RU fans know that St Patrick's of Elizabeth power forward Quintrell Thomas is one of the Scarlet Knights prime targets. SOR spoke recently with the rising senior to get his thoughts on his recent visit to RU, and to see just where Rutgers stands with him.

Head Coach Kevin Boyle of St Patrick's in Elizabeth has built a program that has become one of the most successful and formidable high school basketball programs in the entire country. The 2007 season saw the Celtics capture their second consecutive Tournament of Champions title with an 85-61 dismantling of Bloomfield Tech, and the school finished the season ranked number two in the country by USA Today. All told, it was their fourth Tournament of Champions win under Boyle, who in 19 seasons has guided the tiny parochial school to a 407-120 record, including a 58-6 record their last two years against top nationwide competition.

Obviously to have success like that, you need talented players, and the Celtics have produced their share. 1998 St Pat's grad Al Harrington was considered perhaps the premier high school player in America his senior year, and he was gifted enough to bypass college altogether and jump directly to the NBA. Philadelphia 76ers center Samuel Dalembert is a St Pat's alum, and this past year's T of C Champions team featured two seniors considered among the best in the country: Jeff Robinson, now at Memphis, and Villanova's prized freshman recruit, Corey Fisher, considered by many to be the best player in New Jersey this past year (although don't try convincing RU's own Corey Chandler of that).

The current Celtic's squad features Dexter Strickland, just a junior but already considered one of the country's best players, and the young man who was recently at Rutgers for his official visit, 6'7 power forward prospect Quintrell Thomas. Thomas will soon select which college he will attend from a pool of four finalists: Rutgers, Kansas, Maryland, and UNLV. After speaking with Quintrell, SOR can confirm that it was indeed a good visit for him, and that Rutgers is very much a strong contender for his services.

"It went real well", he said. "I'm real comfortable with them. I've known some of their players for a while from playing in New Jersey". When asked which players he was speaking of, he replied "Corey Chandler and Mike Rosario". Quintrell confirmed that Rosario, the coveted guard from St Patrick's archrival, St Anthony's, who was on his official visit the same weekend that Quintrell was on his, did indeed spend much of the weekend trying to convince him to join him at RU. And how did it go? Is it possible that RU may be where Quintrell ends up?

"It's a big possibility", he said without any hesitation. When asked how his relationship is with the RU coaching staff, specifically Head Coach Fred Hill, and assistant coaches Darren Savino and Craig Carter, he said, "It's real good. I'm real cool with all of them". Indeed, it seems as if the visit to RU apparently opened Quintrell to the possibilities that exist for him at RU. It was mentioned to him that he has long been rumored to want to leave the state to go to college. He was then asked if the possibility of coming to RU and seeing immediate playing time, along with playing a key role in the turnaround of the basketball team a la the football team, interested to him. He replied: "As I was there, the idea started to appeal to me".

Still, Rutgers fans should at least for the time being temper their enthusiasm. Quintrell indicated that he has no favorite. When asked, he did state that the in-home visit that was paid by Kansas Head Coach Bill Self went "real well". This weekend he will be taking his official visit to Maryland, and with the de-commitment to the school of Terrence Jennings, one can expect the Terrapins to put the full-court press on Thomas big time. The following weekend he will take his official to Kansas, followed shortly by a trip to UNLV. He said that he expects to decide sometime by mid-October.

So for now the only thing RU fans can do is watch and wait, and perhaps take some reassurance that RU has gotten this far with a talented young man from such a powerhouse program that is also being pursued by those other schools. Then, come mid-October, perhaps they'll hear that Quintrell Thomas has chosen to become a part of the basketball resurgence that most assuredly will occur at Rutgers under Fred Hill.

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