Deshaun Thomas’ return makes Ohio St. Final Four contender


Ohio State’s 2012-13 roster will include at least one All-America candidate after all.

Two days after sophomore center Jared Sullinger announced he’ll enter the NBA draft, forward Deshaun Thomas announced he’ll be back in Columbus for his junior season.

“We have a great team returning next season and I want to be a part of another championship run,” Thomas said in a release. “My family, my coaches and I looked at my future as a professional but I love being a Buckeye and want to continue my education and development as a player and as a person at Ohio State.

“If I do have an opportunity to play basketball professionally, I want to have an immediate impact,” Thomas said. “Working with my teammates and coaches at Ohio State will help me achieve my future goals.”

The 6-7 forward averaged 15.9 points and 5.4 rebounds his sophomore season, shooting 52 percent from the field. That was a significant boost from his freshman season when he put up 7.5 points per game.

Without Sullinger or departing senior William Buford on the roster, expect Thomas to make a similar jump next season.

His NCAA tournament performance – 19.2 points per game during the Buckeyes’ Final Four run – led all players and showcased his ability to find his shot at almost any time. His 3-point shooting still needs a little work (34.5 percent), but that’s about the only thing he can’t do well offensively.

With Thomas and point guard Aaron Craft, the Buckeyes should contend for the Big Ten title again and possibly make a run at another Final Four.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.