That was wishful thinking for Thomas, but the 6-7, 215-pound forward felt comfortable with his decision to forgo his senior season at Ohio State because most expert draft projections had him listed as at least a mid-second round selection.
Though Thomas' wish to become a first-rounder didn't come to fruition, his NBA dreams were realized Thursday night when the San Antonio Spurs drafted him late in the second round with the No. 58 overall pick. Thomas' selection extended Ohio State's nation-leading streak of seven consecutive years having a player drafted.
"After today, I need to work even harder," Thomas said. "This opportunity means a lot to me. I have believed in myself all along. There are a lot of people who have dreamed of being in this situation but have given up because it became too much work. I didn't give up. Now my goal is to stay in the league for a long time."
After leading the Big Ten in scoring with 19.8 points per game while helping the Buckeyes to the Elite Eight last season, Thomas said he felt he was worthy of a first round selection while making his rounds during pre-draft workouts.
Thomas finished his career No. 9 on Ohio State's all-time scoring list with 1,630 points, and he helped the Buckeyes advance to at least the Sweet 16 in each of his three seasons. His 733 points scored this past season was the third-highest single-season total in OSU history.
There's no question that he is a proven and seasoned scorer. But Thomas – who had been preparing for the NBA draft in Indianapolis – understood he still has plenty of work to do before he becomes a complete player.
Perhaps that was the reason Thomas slipped in the draft, but he said he's confident he'll have a productive NBA career ahead of him.
"I can bring great energy," Thomas said. "I can bring the toughness, the competitive- ness and the will to win. Everybody says, ‘Yeah, you can bring the scoring, but what else can you do?'
"I can go out there and get the extra points, extra rebounds, extra assists, just the little things. I learned that from playing at Ohio State. It's not all about the scoring. It's all about the effort and doing the little things to help your team win."
Thomas made headlines while preparing for the draft when he reportedly refused to give the Spurs his cell phone number during the interview process. Thomas said that teams asked a myriad of questions during their interviews, but he found it interesting that the Spurs led off their interview by asking for his cell phone number and email address. He only gave the Spurs his email.
"I can't go around giving it out to everyone," Thomas said with a chuckle. "Now if they want to draft me, I'd be happy to give it to them."
It looks like Thomas now has a phone number to provide.
"We are so proud of Deshaun and what he was able to accomplish during his time on and off the floor as a Buckeye," OSU head coach Thad Matta said. "Being drafted in the NBA has been a goal of his and we are thrilled he was able to make that happen."