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Fresh off French title, Thomas eyes spot in NBA

Thomas

– Step 1 of Deshaun Thomas’ professional basketball career is over, and the former Bishop Luers star and Indiana Mr. Basketball hopes his next step is the NBA.

A second-round pick (No. 58 overall) in the 2013 NBA draft by the San Antonio Spurs, Thomas played this season for the JSF Nanterre team in Paris.

“It was a great experience,” Thomas said. “It was different with a different culture and a different style. It was all right to get out and see a new culture and new things. It has changed me a lot. It takes a lot of hard work to put in to be able to follow your dreams. It’s all about a fit. You never know what could happen.”

The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 12.2 points and 3.9 rebounds in leading Nanterre to the French Cup championship two weeks ago. He led the Big Ten in scoring with 19 points per game as a junior for Ohio State before turning professional.

“I was just trying to focus on staying with things mentally and getting better,” Thomas said. “I kept hearing good things from the Spurs when they were at the games and kept updated on it. I just want to keep working on my craft. Offensively we know what’s there, they just wanted to see if I could guard that 3-man (small forward) position, and I did it pretty well.”

Nanterre won the French Cup title with a 55-50 win over SLUC Nancy on May 11.

“(The title) felt great,” Thomas said. “All my life, I have been a champion. To come over here and being a professional player and win a championship was very exciting. In my career at Ohio State, we were winning Big Ten championships and were so close to winning a national championship, it was a big accomplishment.”

Thomas won back-to-back Class 2A state championships as a sophomore and junior.

Thomas will again attempt to make the Spurs roster next season after playing with the team’s summer league team. If the Spurs don’t add Thomas to their 2014-15 roster, he would become a free agent. He averaged 12.4 points and 5 rebounds for the Spurs’ summer team last year.

“I just hope for the best,” Thomas, 23, said. “I am a young guy. I just hope to make that Spurs roster, and if not hopefully get on another team and just keep working. I feel like anywhere is an option as long as I am playing basketball and making money doing what I love would be great.

“It all depends on the situation and what offers are there overseas or whatever. It means anybody else could pick me up, and do the same thing and try to make their roster. I play like that is always an option.”

Thomas was in Fort Wayne for a couple of days last week to visit with friends and family before heading back to Indianapolis to train for the summer league. Being just a couple hours away, Thomas hopes to be able to get back to the Summit City more often.

“I might be able to see them more,” Thomas said.

gjones@jg.net

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