"Sixteen days until I'm back home for the summer," Thomas said, the relief clearly evident in his voice. "The school year went alright. I've got a B average right now so I'm doing a lot of good on the academic side. And basketball was a good experience, just with way better competition with older, stronger guys. I think I'm growing up."
Living on the other side of the country has apparently done wonders for Thomas, who acknowledged some of the maturity concerns surrounding him when he first committed to Washington. "Maybe I'm a little more mature, and even though I've been homesick, it's been a good experience," he said.
Thomas seemed pleased with his accomplishments in the classroom, even if it came out of necessity. "The class work hasn't really been tougher," he explained. "You just really have nothing to do out here, so all you have is school and basketball. It's a matter of being focused and out here (in Connecticut), I've been focused."
That's good news for Husky fans concerned about Thomas' reclassification to 2008. It's also good news for UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar. "Coach (Romar) talked to me about that," he said. "But you've got to be in class every day and do your work in order to get the grades."
With all the noise about the NCAA cracking down on so-called "diploma mills", Thomas isn't concerned. "The NCAA prep school stuff won't impact me," he said.
Another major area of focus for Thomas and previously the most criticized area of his game has been his defense. Dawgman.com explained to Thomas that we had heard a vicious rumor about him and that we wanted to get some clarification on it.
"What is it?" he questioned apprehensively, the wheels clearly turning in his head.
‘We heard a rumor that they are actually making you play defense back there…'
"Yeah, I do that now," he explained, laughing. "I have to or I'd be embarrassed right now. I've gotten a lot better in a lot of aspects of my game that I was weak at."
That's music to Dawg fans' ears.
Defensive intensity hasn't been the only skill he picked up during his time at South Kent. He's learning the game. "I'm a more mature player," Thomas declared. "I know the game a lot better being out here against better competition. Overall, I've gotten better at every aspect, especially the defensive side of the ball."
As for his summer plans, it sounds like Thomas is going to be very busy. "I go to Italy in June with Team Reebok for 12 days playing in the Euro camp," he shared. "I'm going to the Steve Nash point guard academy and I don't know yet if I'm going to LeBron James' or Reebok's skills academy yet."
Thomas also has his responsibilities with his hometown AAU team Friends of Hoop, who are eagerly awaiting the return of their floor general.
It hasn't been easy for Thomas, watching the Dawgs from afar this past season, knowing he's still another year away from helping them on the court.
"I've been thinking a lot about that lately, and it's real hard. Hopefully it goes by fast," he said optimistically. "This year went by really fast. I mean school is out really quick here."
However long it takes, Thomas' commitment to UW has never been in question. "Coaches contact me every now and then, or send me letters, but I'm firmly committed to UW," he said. "They think I can come in and make a real big impact, but they I want me to be a more mature person and that's the biggest thing.
"They say that they can't really do much more to my game. I just need to mature."
Sounds good to us.
Thomas stays busy
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