Thomas Not Worried about Future Yet
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Deshaun Thomas pulled himself closer to the microphone. His teammates stopped whispering. They stared down the table at their star junior, waiting anxiously to hear what he was going to say.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“I want to know too,” senior Evan Ravenel said following his final home game with the Buckeyes.
Everyone in the room wanted too. They wanted to know whether it was not only Ravenel’s last game at Value City Arena, but also Thomas, who passed up the possibility of being drafted a year ago to return for his junior season at Ohio State.
“We’ll think about that decision at the end of the tournament,” Thomas said after clearing his throat and smiling.
“Right now, there’s a lot more basketball left.”
With a 68-55 win over Illinois on Sunday, the Buckeyes clinched the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in next week’s Big Ten Tournament in Chicago. They will play the winner of No. 7 Purdue and No. 10 Nebraska on Friday (6:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network) at the United Center.
The Buckeyes have won two of the last three conference tournaments, and Ohio State has played in the tournament’s championship game all but three times in the last 11 years. They have won it four times, including three under Thad Matta, who had the MVP of the tournament (Mike Conley, Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger) on his roster all three times.
Thomas averaged 22 points and 6.5 rebounds in the first two games of last year’s Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. He shot 19-of-28 from the floor and 4-of-9 from behind the arc in those two games against Purdue and Michigan before being held to 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting in the title game against Michigan State.
But Thomas is hoping his junior season will go a little bit further than Chicago.
“I’m just going to enjoy my time and try to get to the Final Four,” Thomas said after scoring 19 points on 13 shots in Ohio State’s win on Sunday.
“That’s all I’m worried about right now. All I care about is the team and the coaches and trying to get better.”
The 6-7 junior out of Fort Wayne, Ind. currently leads the Big Ten in scoring at just under 20 points per game. He shot 44 percent from the floor and 36 percent from behind the arc during the regular season, while leading the conference with 84 percent free throw shooting.
He is currently being projected as an early second-round pick by NBADraft.net, but NBA Draft Express has Thomas going to the Utah Jazz in the latter part of the second round. Another impressive showing in the NCAA Tournament could change his stock, but probably not dramatically.
“He’s a good athlete but he’s not an elite athlete and he’s not overly skilled,” said Joe Kotoch, a former NBA agent who now runs a draft scouting site called ProBasketballDraft.com.
“Looking at his game, it’s a game that has a lot of style, has a lot of sizzle, but substance wise as it relates to an NBA transition, it’s not there. That’s ultimately what’s going to hold him back.”
Thomas could opt to return to Columbus for his senior season, but Kotoch believes his ceiling, as it relates to the NBA draft, is limited.
“That’s the problem you run into with the NBA these days, the draft is all about potential, he told The-Ozone.
“If you don’t leave after your freshman year or your sophomore year, suddenly questions start popping up.”
Thomas has worked hard to erase some of those questions this year, especially the ones about him not being able to pass the ball or not being a team player. Only time will tell how much more he can show before it’s time to make his decision again.
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