The soap opera that is the career of Chris Thomas continued on Tuesday as Marshall announced that the former five-star recruit had been dismissed from the program.
The Charleston Daily Mail is reporting that the cause was — shockingly — a violation of team rules.
Thomas, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, averaged 12.7 points as a sophomore last season. New Thundering Herd head coach Dan D’antoni will now be without two of their three leading scorers from last season, as Kareem Canty transferred out of the program. They also lost Elijah Pittman, who was averaging 21.7 points when he was suspended from the team after nine games last season.
Thomas came to Marshall from Chipola Junior College in Florida, but the path that he took to get there was winding. A native of Denver, Thomas bounced between prep schools, making stops at Princeton Day Academy (MD), Westwind Prep (AZ) and South Kent (CT) before eventually enrolling at Chipola Junior College in January of 2012. Originally a member of the Class of 2013, when he was ranked in the top ten nationally early on in his prep career, Thomas went there to earn his GED, sitting out a semester before becoming a member of the team for the 2012-2013 season.
Thomas committed to Xavier in April of 2012 but reneged on that commitment that September. He was supposed to enroll at Manhattan for the 2013-2014 season, but that went out the window when he violated a conditional release stemming from an arrest for driving an unregistered vehicle without a driver’s license by testing positive for marijuana. He actually was forced to miss Chipola’s 2013 postseason run because he was in jail.
Who knows where he will end up next, but Thomas has done a pretty solid job of wasting what should have been a productive basketball career.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.
Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.
The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.
“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.
“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.
“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”
Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.