Thad Matta has already had to endure losing one of the most prominent pieces of his team prematurely to the NBA Draft when Jared Sullinger announced his decision to pursue a career in professional basketball on Wednesday.
The head coach, however, didn’t have to feel that twice when sophomore Deshaun Thomas committed to returning to Ohio State for his junior season two days later.
“Deshaun, his family and our coaching staff have spent the last week evaluating his future," Matta said in a statement. "Deshaun determined he wants to remain a Buckeye. We are looking forward to building on the success our team enjoyed in 2011-12 with Deshaun playing a significant role next year.”
Thomas was one of the essential pieces in Ohio State’s run to the Final Four this season. The sophomore forward scored more than any other player in the tournament before the Buckeyes traveled to New Orleans.
Now that Thomas is coming back for another season, the Buckeyes could be primed for another deep tournament run.
“We have a great team returning next season and I want to be a part of another championship run," Thomas said. "My family, my coaches and I looked at my future as a professional but I love being a Buckeye and want to continue my education and development as a player and as a person at Ohio State.”
In the time since Ohio State’s season ended less than a week ago, Matta gathered feedback from sources in the NBA to see where Thomas stood as a prospect. Thomas, however, recognized he still has strides to make in college.
A native of Fort Wayne, Ind., Thomas will likely be Ohio State’s top scoring option next season. Much like Evan Turner did when returning turning his back on the NBA Draft three years ago before eventually being drafted No. 2 overall after his junior season, Thomas could see his professional stock skyrocket in the next 12 months.
A native of Fort Wayne, Ind., Thomas will be the top returner in both scoring and rebounding. He averaged 15.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per contest in his sophomore season.
In 39 games this season, Thomas shot 52 percent from the floor (243-for-467). He has scored 897 career points in 76 games for an average of 11.8 per outing. Thomas has helped lead Ohio State to 65 wins the last two seasons.
“If I do have an opportunity to play basketball professionally, I want to have an immediate impact,” he said. “Working with my teammates and coaches at Ohio State will help me achieve my future goals.”
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