Decision Day: Elijah Thomas

The Pony Stampede staff breaks down Lancaster PF Elijah Thomas' decision. SMU, Texas A&M, LSU, Oklahoma State or Illinois? The staff gives their predictions inside!

Elijah Thomas Quick Hits
Height/Weight: 6-9, 250 pounds
High School: Lancaster (Tex.)
Rating: Four-star prospect by Scout.com
Ranking: 8th-ranked center, 30th overall prospect in 2015
AAU Team: Team Texas
EYBL stats: Only played in one game in the 2014 EYBL season, but averaged 14.7 points per game, seven rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in the 2013 EYBL season.
Side Note: Thomas has been impressed by Illinois' fans #Illijah campaign that took over social media around Thomas' visit to Champaign.

Thomas sounds off on choices

SMU: “SMU is twenty minutes away from the house. That would be a bonus. Larry Brown is a very good coach. He’s straight-forward with you. He has a really good opportunity to make my dreams come true and win. It’s close to home and I know they’re gonna be a really strong team this year and the year that I get on campus.”

Oklahoma State: “This was the second school to offer me a scholarship. Coach [Butch] Pierre and coach [Travis] Ford have been to my school as many times as they could. They’ve been to all my games and I know a lot of the players there. The fan base and people there are really cool. I like their academics, outside of basketball, which means a lot. Also there’s an opportunity for me and Jawun to play together.”

Illinois: “That’s probably the school that has recruited me he heaviest. Coach [John] Groce and coach Jamall [Walker] and their whole staff never miss my games. That shows the difference between them and other schools. They don’t express the want, they express the need. Their fan base is crazy and they present the opportunity for me to play right away, both Me and Jawun Evans.”

LSU: “Jordan [Mickey] goes there. He’s almost like family to me. I know a lot of the players that go there. I talked to Shaq [O’Neal] when I was a Reebok Breakout Classic and he told me a lot of about LSU that I didn’t know. Coach Johnny Jones and coach [David] Patrick have done a great job recruiting me and so has Ben Simmons.”

Texas A&M: “It’s close to home. They were the first school to offer me a scholarship. They just worked very hard at recruiting me the whole time. They’ve presented a great opportunity for me to play right away.”

Thomas Evaluation

Strengths: Thomas has incredible footwork for a high school prospect. That's what sets him apart as a prospect. Thomas is a wide body, has great strength and now that Thomas has developed great post moves including a hook shot down in the low post. With his soft hands, Thomas will only improve his low post game at the next level.

Areas to Improve:Thomas missed almost the entire EYBL season due to injury and there had been questions about his conditioning before that. At the next level, Thomas will have to really get into the weight room to get on the floor more as well as accept hard coaching as he is far from a finished product if he cannot stay on the floor.

Elijjah Thomas Mixtape

How he'd fit at SMU

Thomas is the big that SMU is looking for in the 2015 class. With his size and strength, Thomas fits the mold of current SMU forward Markus Kennedy. Thomas would be SMU's fourth commit in the 2015 class and secure a top 25 recruiting class for Larry Brown and the Mustangs.

The Predictions

BILLY'S PICK: SMU
Even with SMU recently offering JUCO big man Johnny Hamilton, I think Thomas picks SMU. Playing close to home and for "THE Larry Brown" as Thomas put it is just too much to pass up. As a freshman, Thomas wants to win a national championship. With or without Markus Kennedy next season, SMU is primed to make a run in the tournament as Brown's vision for SMU continues to develop. The Hall of Fame coach can get Thomas in shape and ready to make the jump to the NBA if he so chooses. The cool pick would be Texas A&M, who has a solid class of DFW area players including Thomas' best friend, Admon Gilder. If Thomas chooses a program in Texas, SMU is my front-runner for the reasons above. Thomas will be able to immediately contribute and with Brown's success making Kennedy into an All-AAC performer, it will be too much to pass up for Thomas and his NBA prospects.

SCOTT'S PICK: SMU
Since Thomas' Prime Prep days, the Mustangs have been all over the power forward. Larry Brown and Ulric Maligi have made countless trips to Prime Prep, Lancaster and Thomas' home, trying to win his services, and all of that hard work should pay off Tuesday.

From what we've heard recently, this has become a three team race between SMU, Oklahoma State and LSU, but with Admon Gilder choosing Texas A&M you can't count them out. At Gilder's press conference last week however, Thomas said one deciding factor for his decision will be whether or not his team can win a championship freshman year. And only one team in my eyes could do that in 2016, and that's SMU. Thomas has also always raved about SMU's proximity to his home, and has always been high on hall of famer Coach Brown. With Markus Kennedy's academic issues, Thomas could see significant minutes as a freshman and could help this SMU team go deep into the NCAA tournament.

PATRICK'S PICK: Texas A&M
Elijah has been so tough to read all along. He praises all of the schools he his considering and sheds no light on a favorite. He has shown Larry Brown a lot of love. He has repeatedly said he would love to play in his hometown. For what it’s worth he has also been friendly with PonyStampede reporters and has been quick to respond to PonyStampede’s questions lately. Those are all good indicators that he is really high on SMU, but in the end, I think he will leave SMU fans disappointed. I think he will join best friend Admon Gilder and the rest of DFW’s top players in College Station and become an Aggie.

HATT'S PICK: Texas A&M
The week got off to a flying start last week when Shake Milton committed to SMU. Unfortunately I think it is going to end on a disappointing note. For the second time in a row, I believe the Aggies are going to come out on top. I will concede however, this decision was the toughest to make because I honestly wouldn’t be surprised with any school he chooses. He has made it known he would like to win a championship his freshman year and will go to the school that gives him the best chance to do that. After seeing his best friend commit to A&M, as well as, looking at the rest of their recruiting class, that option will end up being too good for the 4-star power forward to pass up.

The Aggies also rolled out the red carpet for Thomas with their signs at the game, something he will certainly love as well. Ultimately I get the sense, Thomas believes that Brown is an incredible coach and that playing in his backyard would be a special opportunity, but the recruiting class A&M will get his attention. As late as his blog today there are a couple of lines that concern me, including him alluding to 4 of the top 5 players in the state going to A&M if he commits there as well as his appreciation for how long the Aggies have shown interest in him. It will be a close call and I ultimately believe that SMU is probably his second choice but it seems to me he see’s a major opportunity.

DEMO'S PICK: SMU
I am a very big believer in Larry Brown, his coaching staff, and what they are able to do with athletes. I know I'm not the only one and I think all the kids they recruit know it too. In my opinion the two most important things in these guys (recruits) minds is playing time and winning games. They want to be part of a winning team, but they want to feel like they are contributing to that success. I firmly believe that as long as Brown is at SMU his teams will be competitive. We all know that if there is one thing Brown's future Mustang teams need are big men. That's exactly what Thomas is. It just seems like a good fit- at least, it would seem like it for me. Hopefully Thomas thinks so too.

Thomas Talks Decision, SMU


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