So it's not surprising to learn that many big name colleges are already pursuing wiry 6-8 small/combo forward Lance Thomas of Scotch Plains Fanwood H.S. in Scotch Plains, N.J.
While much of the initial ink went to Thomas' teammate Derrick Caracter, the lanky 195 pounder has made quite an impression at a pair of major events this spring -- the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions and the Pangos All-American Camp.
Thomas continued his fine play this past weekend at the Rumble in the Bronx, where he helped the New Heights program reach the title game before losing to New York Bounce.
Probably the biggest improvement that Thomas has made is with his shooting stroke. Back at the Hoop Group Tip-Off Classic and Slam Dunk to the Beach in December, he struggled with the consistency of his jumper.
This past weekend at the Rumble, Thomas showed he's quite capable of knocking down shots in the 15 to 17 foot range. Upper body strength, ball handling and deep shooting range are the three areas that Thomas will need to address to become an even more complete prospect.
"I just work out a lot," Thomas said when asked about the strides he's made. "I try to take a lot of jumpers, around 200 a day. Other days, I work on my handle."
The hallmark of Thomas' game is efficiency. Once he grabs a defensive rebound, he doesn't hesitate in making a quick outlet pass to fan the break. He's also quick enough to get involved on the other end and finish, and his reactions along the baseline help make him a factor on the offensive glass despite his lack of bulk.
As a sophomore this past season at Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Thomas averaged 19 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and three blocks per game.
Among the colleges on Thomas' early list are Duke, Georgia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Kansas, Arizona and St. Joe's. Thus far, he's had a chance to check out Duke, because his New Heights team played at Cameron Indoor Stadium during the Gibbons Tournament.
A strong student who boasts a 3.3 GPA, Thomas spoke positively about the game of college basketball in a day and age where high schools routinely discuss jumping straight to the NBA.
"I love watching college basketball, because it's more competitive than the NBA, which is more one-on-one," Thomas said. "My ultimate dream is to play in the NBA, but I would love to play NCAA basketball because of the competitiveness."
To this date, Thomas said that none of the nine schools on his list have offered him a scholarship. That will likely change once the July evaluation period begins.
"A lot of the schools are showing heavy interest," he said. "But I am not really worried about the recruiting -- I am just worried about getting better."
Thomas said that he's received invitations from each of the major shoe camps, but as of this past weekend, hadn't decided if he would attend the Reebok ABCD Camp, the Nike All-American Camp or the adidas Superstars Camp.
His New Heights club will play in the Reebok East Tournament at Fairleigh Dickinson after the ABCD Camp, and then head out west to the Reebok Big Time in Las Vegas and adidas Best of the Summer in Los Angeles.
We will have coverage of several of these major events next month, so keep it tuned here for the latest on Thomas and other elite prospects in the Class of 2006.