Deshaun Thomas may have chosen to forgo his final year of eligibility at Ohio State, but there is no doubting the basketball star is all Buckeye.
Anyone who had any question about can just look to his schedule this weekend.
Thomas threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Ohio State baseball game last night, and he is set to make an appearance at the men’s volleyball team’s MIVA playoff game tonight in St. John Arena.
The appearances are the kind of thing that can spur attendance for some OSU sports, but at the same time, Thomas is making the tour as a roving representative of OSU athletics simply in an effort to show support for other Buckeye student-athletes.
“It’s important to the other athletes,” Thomas told BuckeyeSports.com. “I wrote that letter to The Lantern showing support to the other athletes, knowing that for athletes like me who come from the big programs like the basketball program and things like that, it’s good to come out and support them.”
Ahh yes, that letter to The Lantern. Thomas earned plaudits from around the country and Buckeye Nation for the letter he sent, which was published April 1, just days after the men’s basketball team was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament. The letter read, in part:
“I know that athletes in other sports that do not get much press coverage are also winning championships. Just two weekends ago, Logan Stieber won his second-consecutive national championship in his weight class in wrestling, and senior Marco Canevari marked the Scarlet and Gray’s single individual champion title in fencing by securing the gold medal in men’s epee on March 22. A day later, gymnasts Sarah Miller and Aly Marohn captured the Big Ten championship on the balance beam.
“Last Tuesday, The Lantern featured an article in which athletic director Gene Smith talked about how Ohio State isn’t just a football school. He talked about the success of our basketball team. It would be good to remember that in the other sports, there is a lot of success too.
“All athletes at Ohio State work very hard at being the best they can be at their sport. I wish that all athletes could receive the attention that our football and basketball teams get. They all deserve to be celebrated.”
Thomas said that he wrote the letter simply to bring notice to the accomplishments of his fellow student-athletes.
“It was just something I thought about,” he said. “At first we didn’t know if we could do it, if there were any issues or anything with it. But it’s something good. I wanted to say something about the other athletes who are winning championships, like the wrestler who won a national championship and the gymnasts who won Big Tens. I was just showing them respect and showing they should get as much love as basketball players and football players.”
Thomas, who has gotten to know a number of his fellow student-athletes over his career, said he’s received a good response since writing to the student newspaper.
“My Twitter went crazy,” said the forward, who delivered his first pitch Friday night wide of the plate after jokingly shaking off catcher Aaron Gretz. “Everybody from different programs and from different sports – baseball and track and all that – said thank you. They said much respect and it was very classy. I’ve seen the word classy a lot on Twitter.”
Thomas delivered the last line with the trademark smile and confidence that made him a favorite of Ohio State fans over the past few years. Likewise, Thomas feels like he’ll always be part of the OSU culture.
“It’s good,” Thomas said. “I love it. They say I’ll always be a Buckeye, and I believe that.”
While Thomas is doing his best to hit up some Buckeye athletic events, his main goal at the moment is continuing to work out for June’s NBA draft. The 6-7 sharpshooter finished ninth all-time in scoring at OSU and averaged 19.8 points in his junior campaign, but his hope is to raise a stock that has him likely going in the late first round or early second round.
“Just keep working out, get better, just keep getting my body right,” he said. “I’m trying to get in the best shape possible and go on to start my new life.”