Sit-Down with Lance Thomas

Lance Thomas is ranked by Scout.com as the #5 power forward in the 2006 class and #15 overall prospect. He has countless offers spanning the country. The only thing that could slow him down in San Diego while practicing and playing with USA Basketball was a cold. But the New Jersey fab forward was more than willing to sit down with us to talk about the week, recruiting and more.

Lance Thomas Scout Profile

ME:  What has the experience of USA Basketball been like for you this week?

LT:  First off, it's a great honor and pleasure to play for the USA team.  Not a lot of high school players get a chance to represent their country.  I'm very grateful for the opportunity.  And it's great to go up against great players - that only gets you better.  It raises your attitude up; you cannot take a day off.  There is no inferior competition here.  It's just a great opportunity, and I'm happy to be here.

ME:  Is there anything developmentally, with the practices last weekend and the games so far, that you can feel can improve you while you're here?

LT:  Definitely.  From the workouts I realized that I can definitely step up and be a leader.  Every player on every team is a superstar back home.  You have to have some people step up as leaders and keep everybody at a high level, so we can compete every night and win.

ME:  Is there anything in terms of basketball ability or skill level which you are trying to raise this week?

LT:  I'm trying to showcase my ballhandling skills.  Also my intensity - I like to have that rub off on other players.

ME:  Last night, you were taking defenders off the dribble a lot - particularly going baseline.  Is that the way you operate in high school, or do you find yourself more operating in a back-to-the-basket low post capacity in high school?

LT:  I do some of that in high school, but it's something I've worked hard at in the off-season.  I'm going to constantly work at it, and by next year I will be a face-up player.

ME:  Oh, so is that how you see yourself?  Is that how you see yourself down the road?

LT:  Yes.  I just want to be a match-up problem.  I don't want to be a one-dimensional player who has to play with their back to the basket.  If I have a big guy, I want to face him up and go around him or hit the three.  If I have a smaller guy, I definitely want to revert back to my bread & butter, which is back-to-the-basket stuff.  I want to be able to do it all and create match-up problems for the other team.

ME:  Well, creating those match-up problems and your abilities has created a lot of college attention.  I know a lot of those schools are back east - you're west in San Diego this week.  Some Pac-10 schools out here have been recruiting you.  Is it going to be easier for you to stay back home in the east?

LT:  Being out west - I don't think that's something I'm worried about.  I don't think distance is going to be a big factor.  I just want to be in the perfect situation to be successful.  If I have to go to Hawaii to be successful, then I'll do that.  I just want to be in the right spot.  Distance isn't a big factor for me.  I just want to be successful.

ME:  If distance isn't a big factor, what are the factors important to you as you work toward this decision?

LT:  The right fit for me will be a family environment - some place that makes me feel at home.  A great relationship with the head coach.  A system that will help out the players with time management and academics.  Schools that offer certain majors.

ME:  What is it that you are looking to study?

LT:  I want to do something along the lines of engineering, and then break it off into architecture at a later time.  But right now I'm focused on engineering.

ME:  Returning to the west, Arizona is one of those schools you have been taking a look at.  Where are you with your relationship with them, and what is your current thinking on an official visit to Tucson?

LT:  I have a great relationship with most of the coaches there.  I really like the school.  I do plan on taking a visit there really soon.

ME:  Did you take any spring visits?

LT:  I took a spring visit to Villanova - an unofficial.  I went when Wayne Ellington and Gerald Henderson took their official visits.  It was a lot of fun.

ME:  Do you think you will take all five official visits in the fall?

LT:  I will probably use some after the AAU season - maybe unofficials in late July.  I'm still not sure.  I want to knock out some official visits.  I'm not really sure when I want to make my decision by.  Most likely, as of now, it will probably be in the fall.

ME:  I know another school out west that has tried to recruit you is Stanford.  What have you heard from them and what kind of realistic possibility do they have?

LT:  Stanford - I speak to them.  They actually are in the mix.  They are a great academic powerhouse, which is something I value a lot.  I want to be in that perfect spot to be academically successful, as well, and be academically challenged.  I probably won't drop them off my list.  It's a great school.  I've spoken to the coaches, and they say a lot of great things - how I can help the program out.  And with Brook and Robin Lopez, I think that it can happen.  I'm definitely going to keep them in mind.

ME:  Robin can be a quiet personality.  Is he aware that you are being recruited by Stanford, and does he talk with you about that?

LT:  We talk often.  He's very shy toward most people, but I knew him from a prior event [Midnight Madness in Cherry Hill, N.J.].  He's open to me, even if he comes off as a shy person to everyone else.  He tells me about the school and how everything is.  It would be great to play with him again.

ME:  There are obviously schools back east in every major conference after you.  As you start to think about narrowing your list down, who are those East Coast schools highest on your mind?

LT:  On the East Coast, I would have to say Villanova, UConn, Florida - the local schools like Rutgers and Seton Hall - Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Duke.  Schools like that.

ME:  It's a long list you have right now.  With the opportunities you've had to talk with a lot of coaches and research schools and programs, do you see a point soon when you will be able to narrow that list down?

LT:  Definitely.  I'm going to try to narrow it down to about five - or maybe even three - at the end of July.  Then I'll get going on the visits.

ME:  I know you don't want to name a top five right now, but is there any school that has done such a great job with you that you know they will make that cut?

LT:  As of now, no.  I'm trying to keep my options open.  I think think I've actually waited too late.  It's going to be really hard to sort everything out.

ME:  Just to ask about Stanford - can you give a percent chance, or a guess, that they could realistically make a list of three or five at the end of the summer?

LT:  They have about a 60% chance.

ME:  You talk about the importance of academics to you.  How are you doing in school and what sort of classes do you take?

LT:  In school, I'm doing really well.  I have a 3.35 GPA.  I actually took a lot of senior classes my junior year.  Next year I'm going to try to do more challenging classes.  I took precalculus this year but will take calculus next year.  It's not mandatory, but I'm doing it just to get ahead.  I'm just going to take as many advanced and AP classes as I can.

ME:  Have you taken an SAT or ACT yet?

LT:  I've taken the SAT but I still didn't get my score back yet.  It's supposed to be in already - it may be back home now.  I took it a month ago [in May].

ME:  Well, Lance, thank you very much for your time.  I hope that cold gets better, and the best of luck to you this week and beyond.

LT:  Thank you.


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