Norcross (Ga.) three-star forward Lance Thomas had never really considered playing his collegiate basketball on the West Coast, but now he’ll be pondering that possibility after receiving an offer from USC earlier this week.
Thomas impressed the USC coaching staff with his performance at the Elite Youth Basketball League opening session in Brooklyn, N.Y. last weekend.
“They saw me play in Brooklyn. Then they called me on Monday after I got done working out,” Thomas said. “They said they wanted to offer me, that I had played good.”
“It's pretty cool. I never would have thought about going out West, but then when they offered me, I thought about my game and how it could fit out West. They are cool with my style of play — up and down, four out, one in.”
After a high school growth spurt, Thomas sprouted up to 6-foot-10. 215 pounds, but has maintained his outside shooting ability and ballhandling skills on the wing, allowing him to play either small forward or power forward. That makes him a tough player to defend, especially when opposing teams try to guard him with a power forward or center.
“I just get up and down the floor and most big guys that are going to be guarding me are going to be big and slow, so I like to run them.”
Thomas’ high school team went 26-4 this season running a similar offense to USC’s that focuses on spacing and everyone on the floor being a threat to shoot the basketball. While he hasn’t watched USC much in the past, Thomas has seen the style of play the Trojans are trying to emulate up close with the Atlanta Hawks being the hometown team.
Thomas plans to watch more USC games in the future, but already knows how efficient and dangerous the Norcross/USC/Atlanta Hawks offense can be when everyone is on the same page.
“I feel like it’s really deadly. A lot of players with good IQ and ball movement is kind of tough to guard. It’s hard to guard players who have a really good IQ and know what their next move is going to be. It’s tough to guard smart players.”
That’s something USC stresses with its players and Thomas believes part of the reason the coaching staff is interested in him. After receiving his initial offer from an assistant, Thomas got a chance to talk with USC head coach Andy Enfield just before speaking with Scout.
“He’s really cool. He’s a really cool guy. He’s coached a lot of Atlanta guys, so that’s a plus,” Thomas said. “Coach Andy wants me to come out there for an official when I can start making my official visits.”
With the number of schools coming after Thomas recently, the long-limbed and mobile forward could have a tough time choosing where to take his five official visits. Just this week, after his performance at EYBL, he has earned scholarship offers from Ole Miss, Auburn, Memphis, Rutgers Dayton, Old Dominion and Central Florida along with the Trojans.
But Thomas said he will definitely be considering Enfield’s proposition.