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Thomas will pursue NBA dream

Ohio State, Bishop Luers star will enter June draft

Thomas

– Fort Wayne native Deshaun Thomas has chased an NBA dream his whole life, from putting up shots on street courts to when he starred at Bishop Luers and, most recently, as an All-American at Ohio State.

Friday, he decided it’s time to fulfill that dream.

Thomas, a junior at Ohio State and the 2010 Indiana Mr. Basketball, will forego his final season with the Buckeyes and enter the 2013 NBA draft, the university announced.

“I’m ready to get back to work and follow the dream and get ready for the next level,” Thomas said in a phone interview. “It was time for me to go. I felt like I had put in the work. My stock is as high as it can get, and now it’s time to get out there and show what I can do at the highest level.”

Thomas averaged 19.8 points and six rebounds for Ohio State this season. He had 23 points in the final game of his career, a 70-66 loss to Wichita State in the Elite Eight.

He finished his career as one of 25 Buckeyes to score more than 1,000 points and grab more than 500 rebounds.

“He represents Fort Wayne,” Luers coach James Blackmon said, crediting Thomas for doing “all the right things” while he was under Blackmon’s tutelage. “He’s put himself in a position where he’s ready to go to the next level. I think he’s well prepared for it.”

The 6-foot-7, 221-pound forward is projected as a second-round pick, at No. 52 overall, by DraftExpress.com after finishing the season as an Associated Press third-team All-American.

Thomas is one of the top 10 scorers in Ohio State history with 1,630 points, and his 733 points this year is the third most in a season in Buckeyes’ history.

“Just to watch Deshaun mature as a player and watch him mature as a person (has been inspiring),” Blackmon said. “Deshaun’s been waiting for this throughout his career, and I’m just excited for him as I can be.”

The forward is pleased with his accomplishments during his college career and said he looks forward to bringing his talents to the next level. His family and friends in the area, along with his current teammates, reached out in droves to offer their support after his announcement.

While Ohio State will miss its leading scorer next season, fellow players wished Thomas nothing but the best as he prepares for the draft, which will take place June 27.

“They were very supportive,” Thomas said. “Some of them were sad for me to go, but they know this was a decision I had to make for myself and for my family.”

Buckeyes coach Thad Matta was also complimentary of Thomas, who alongside Aaron Craft created one of the best duos in the Big Ten. The pair led Ohio State to the Big Ten tournament title game, where Thomas scored 17 points to give the Buckeyes their fourth Big Ten tourney title, the most of any program in the conference.

With Thomas leading the way, Ohio State went 29-8 this season. The Buckeyes reached the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 or better in Thomas’ three years in the program.

“To see Deshaun grow into the man he has become has been amazing,” Matta said in a statement. “We recruited him offering the opportunity to grow as a person and player and that is exactly what happened.

“I know there is much more in store for him in the future.”

smorrison@jg.net

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