Tomorrow night, Deshaun Thomas will take the Value City Arena floor for East squad under the direction of Dru Joyce II. And while it may be the last time Thomas plays for LeBron James' HS coach, it won't be the last time he wears the same uniform as fellow McDonald's All American Jared Sullinger. Those two headline a recruiting class for Thad Matta's OSU Buckeyes that has them looking to reload next season, and while many around Buckeye nation are familiar with Sullinger, there's equal reason to be as excited about the arrival of Thomas. The 6'7" forward from Bishop Luers High in Fort Wayne, Indiana can bring the ball up the court, create his own shot, and hit the boards as well...and he's been drawing comparisons to Shaquille O'Neal since the 3rd grade.
Photo Credit: Robert Sheer / The Star
I had a chance to catch-up with Deshaun at the McDonald's All American media-day earlier today, and our exchange is below...
Stepien Rules: How's this week, and experience been for you so far?
Deshaun Thomas: Its been a great experience for me. Its been great being with all these guys, and today we had a chance to meet the kids at the Ronald McDonald’s house and help out with that charity. It was great to get involved there, and I've been having a lot of fun down here so far.
Stepien Rules: What made you decide on Ohio State?
Stepien Rules: With the Buckeyes most likely losing Evan Turner to the draft, and David Lighty to graduation, did the opportunity to play next season factor into your decision?
Deshaun Thomas: The possibility to play next season was a factor, but its definitely not something that's guaranteed. I know I’m going to have to go down there and work hard, and get better each day, and try to put myself in a position to get on the court. Its going to be all about hard work, and I know that. Me and Jared [Sullinger] have talked since we both committed and even said if we have to come off the bench next year to make this team better that’s something we’re willing to do.
Stepien Rules: Had you played with or against Jared prior to this week? How long have you guys known each other?
Deshaun Thomas: We had played against each other in AAU, but we didn't really meet until we made our first recruiting visit. We were both down for the OSU – USC game this past season, and we exchanged numbers then, and have been in touch ever since.
StepienRules: What active NBA player would you most compare your game to?
Deshaun Thomas: I would compare my game to a Lamar Odom. I’m a bigger forward that can also step out and hit the three, maybe more of an outside shooter than a Lamar Odom type player, but I can also go inside as well and get rebounds in the paint. But as far as being a bigger forward that can also dribble the ball up the court, I see myself as a Lamar Odom type player.
Stepien Rules: Your nickname's Diesal, is that right? Where's that come from?
Deshaun Thomas: Yeah my nickname is The Diesal, and I got that back in 3rd and 4th grade. Its was pretty much from me being a bigger kid, and banging around in the paint. Everybody just started calling me Diesal, a young Shaquille O’Neal I guess [laughs].
Stepien Rules: What's it mean to be part of a game that's included the likes of LeBron James, Chris Paul, and so many other great players?
Deshaun Thomas: It means a lot to be a part of that legacy, and its feels good to be here. It feels like we’re on the next level, just being a part of this game, and a part of the Ronald McDonald’s charity. A lot of us we’re even saying to each other that we’re here, we made it, so it feels great to be a part of all that.
Stepien Rules: In making it this far, what do you feel like you have to do to continue to make it to those next levels?
Deshaun Thomas: The most important thing for me is just to continue to work on my game, continue to get better, and continue to stay humble, and I think OSU is a great place for me to be able to do that.
Stepien Rules: What do you hope to accomplish in your time at Ohio State?
Deshaun Thomas: I’m pretty much looking to win the Big Ten Title and the National Title. That’s my goal going in, to win championships.
StepienRules: What are you looking forward to tomorrow night?
Deshaun Thomas: Man, I’m just looking to have fun tomorrow night. Just get out there with these guys, play hard, have fun, and just keep living the life.
Where the scouts have Deshaun Thomas rated:
Scout.com: 17th Highest Rated Player Overall, Listed as #4 PF overall
ESPNU: 12th Highest Rated Player Overall, Listed as #2 SF overall
Rivals.com: 18th Highest Rated Player Overall, Listed as #6 PF overall
Look for more on Deshaun and the McDonald's All American Game here at Stepien Rules tomorrow...