Let’s agree on one thing: Deshaun Thomas loves to shoot the basketball.
There’s no time when that has become more apparent than in the first three games of Ohio State’s run in the NCAA tournament, as Thomas has averaged 25 points per game on an average of 18 shots.
Thomas says the trend goes back to high school in Fort Wayne, Ind.
“Coaches had the ball in my hands 110 percent of the time,” Thomas said in a press conference on Friday. “That’s what I do. I love to score. I’m sorry.”
Apology accepted, though for what reason, I’m not sure. Averaging 25 points seems to forgive itself.
After exploding for 31 points against Loyola (Md.) in the Round of 64, Thomas’ most important performance came on Thursday night, when his early scoring outbreak helped Ohio State over Cincinnati.
“He came in with the mentality of being a scorer,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “We’ve talked a lot to him about [how] there’s so many other ways that he can affect our team in a positive way.”
The most striking thing about Thomas is his frame. At 6-7, 225 pounds, he is solidly built, yet still able to work both inside and outside to be effective.
The one area where Thomas needs to improve drastically, though, is on the defensive end. Matta famously began referring to Thomas as simply “Shaun,” saying that have the “De” in front was too ironic, because of his lack of effort on the defensive end. If he can do that, it could help to neutralize the depth and athleticism of Syracuse in their Elite Eight game Saturday night.
As Nick Fasulo points out in his Ohio State-Syracuse preview, Thomas’ versatility will be important if the Buckeyes want to crack the Orange zone.
In hand with forward Jared Sullinger, Ohio State has a solid one-two scoring combination in the frontcourt.
Ohio State and Syracuse tip off at 7:05p.m. Fasulo is in Boston, so check back to CollegeBasketballTalk for live coverage after the game.