June 17, 2013

Thomas enjoying path to pros

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This year's NBA champion will be crowned in the coming days, but regardless of whether it's the San Antonio Spurs or Miami Heat who walk away with the league's crown, they won't be the only basketball players living out their dreams in the next two weeks.

The NBA will hold it's annual draft in Brooklyn, N.Y. next Thursday, and Deshaun Thomas is expected to be one of the 60 players chosen. Analysts project the former Ohio State forward to be selected anywhere from the middle of the first round to end of the second- polarizing projections for a player who could've often been described the same way during his college career.

Thanks to a reputation of never seeing a shot that he didn't like, Thomas was known for the first two years as a gunner who could stuff a stat sheet, but didn't possess an overall game. In his junior season, however, Thomas blossomed into a more complete player, an All-Big Ten selection who led the Buckeyes to the brink of a second consecutive Final Four appearance.

The 6-foot-7, 225-pounder's bread and butter remains his scoring though, which is something that he's been trying to showcase during his hectic workout schedule with teams over the past two months.

"I see myself fitting as a great scorer. Competing, fun, great character, and willing to win all about. That's what it's about in this league: having the great character and winning ball games," Thomas said. "Some of these guys come out here and do different things. I'm going to keep doing my thing in putting the ball in the hole."

Thomas' schedule has taken him all over the country in recent weeks, but last week, the Fort Wayne, Ind. native was able to stay close to home. After working out for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, Thomas spent Thursday with the Indiana Pacers. The state of Indiana's third all-time leading scorer, Thomas enjoyed working out for his hometown team, who currently possess the No. 23 and No. 53 overall picks of the draft.

"I grew up watching Reggie Miller. I loved watching the Pacers," the Bishop Luers product said. "I didn't have to fly no where. I live down by the Embassy Suite, so it was just a 16-minute drive. It felt good being here at home and putting on for the Pacers. I wouldn't hate it if they drafted me."

One question often asked of Thomas as a draft prospect is which position he'll play in the NBA. The Big Ten's leading scorer in 2012-13 played mostly power forward during his days in Columbus, but due to his size is viewed a small forward at the next level. That's the position that Thomas played during his workout with the Pacers, and is also one that he feels is his natural spot.

"I prefer the three, cause you can get out there and space the floor, take your man off the dribble," Thomas said. "The three can score in different ways. You can score on a big guy, go around him, or if it's a smaller three, post him up. The three is where I want to play."

Even if his hometown team isn't the one that winds up drafting him next week, Thomas said that he knows that ending up wherever he does will be a "blessing." More than anything, he's enjoying the process -- one that he's imagined since his days as a five-star prospect in high school.

"I did come a long way. Growing up at Bishop Leuers, this has always been my dream," Thomas said. "All of my friends were like, 'Deshaun, you're the one that's going to make it.' It was just fun coming out of Leurs, always having my dream and always keeping my head level."


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