Tom Herrion

Report: Former five-star recruit Chris Thomas headed to Marshall

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Well-traveled JuCo standout Chris Thomas is no longer going to attend Manhattan and is instead headed to Marshall to play his college ball, according to a report from Jon Rothstein, who spent the day at Manhattan’s practice.

Thomas’ status had been up in the air at Manhattan. He’s got a long history of academic issues and was violated his conditional released stemming from driving an unregistered vehicle without a license when he tested positive for marijuana. He was in jail during Chipola Junior College’s trip to the JuCo National tournament.

“We have to make some decisions as a program, is that something that we want to move forward with and that type of thing,” Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello told back in June. “We’re going to evaluate that a little more and probably make a decision in the next couple days.”

Thomas’ hoops career has been a whirlwind. He started out at a high school in Denver, but never played for them. He then transferred to Princeton Day Academy (MD) before planning on enrolling at Westwind Prep (AZ). He never made it to Westwind, however, instead enrolling at South Kent in 2011-2012. But in January of 2012, Thomas left South Kent as a 19 year old junior and enrolled at Chipola. His transcript was a such a mess at that point that it seemed unlikely he would get eligible, so he spent a semester at Chipola earning his GED before playing and taking classes this past season.

Last April, Thomas committed to Xavier, but he decommitted from the program in September because he reportedly wanted to go through the recruiting process like his teammates.

Marshall has taken chances on talented but troubled players before. Most notably, they former Louisville commit and top 50 recruit Justin Coleman, whose time at Marshall ended when he whipped out his cell phone on the bench during a game.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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.