Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hotly-Pursued Thomas To Visit Loyola-Chicago On Friday

Keith Thomas' consistency, collection of double doubles, and furious-paced work ethic is what makes the 6-foot-8 Westchester Community College forward appealing to high-major Division-I programs.

Thomas played just one year of high school basketball at Yorktown (N.Y.), spearheading the Huskers to the Section 1 Final Four. A rediscovery of how much he loves the game allowed Thomas to make a second run.

Now the Mount Vernon, N.Y. native is one of the nation's most hotly pursued forwards.

"He was so consistent this year, but what I really like about Keith is he takes no prisoners on the court," said Vikes head coach Tyrone Mushatt, who played at WCC himself in the mid-1990s.

"There were some games against lower level competition where could have cruised. He could have said 'Oh, this is going to be a cupcake game.' He didn't take anything for granted. He gave everything in every game."

Thomas averaged 15.3 points and a NJCAA-leading 15.7 boards en route to NJCAA Region XV Player of the Year honors. He helped propel the Vikes to their first JUCO national tournament berth since 1996. Thomas is slated to visit Loyola-Chicago on Friday.

St. John's, Fordham, Loyola-Chicago, Florida State, and Wright State have been in active pursuit of Thomas, according to Mushatt.

Memphis and Dayton have jumped in the KT sweepstakes, expressing significant interest in the 23-year-old freshman. He'll likely have three years of eligibility.

"Loyola-Chicago has been recruiting him for about 4-5 months now," Mushatt said.

"Keith is a kid who is about loyalty. They've been there since the very beginning and he recognizes that. Florida State is trying to get a visit setup. They're another powerhouse program that he's considering."

Mushatt has referred to Thomas as his "NAVY SEAL" for his toughness during workouts and ability to finish through contact and withstand the brutal hits inside the paint.

 Thomas authored efficiency during his freshman year at WCC, shooting the rock at a 65.4 percent clip. This was underscored by a mammoth 29-point eruption (13-for-14 FG) against Harcum and a 10-for-11, 22-point shredding of Orange County Community College.

Will Thomas stay local?

New York schools appear to be rolling out the red carpet for him.

"St. John's is on him a lot, they're trying to keep him in New York," Mushatt explained. "Fordham is showing him a lot of love too."

Thomas was once the young kid in the stands, watching with a hawk-like gaze as his uncle, former Mount Vernon guard Randy Brunson, won a Section 1 championship alongside Ben Gordon.

Frequently engaged in afternoon-long pickup games at Solaris in Yorktown, Thomas can best be described as a gym rat. He is stoked with growing confidence, which manifests itself during high-pressure moments.

An adept passer, Thomas is always working on applying new components to his game, incorporating new moves into his arsenal.

"He lives in the gym," Mushatt deadpanned.

Saving his loudest performance for the tail end of the regular season, Thomas dropped 28 points and tore down 17 rebounds during WCC's 82-70 win over Baltimore City Community College.

 Thomas dropped 11 points, snagged 13 rebounds, and doled out four assists during the Vikes' 101-99 double-overtime loss to Wallace State in the national tournament.

Facilitating the balanced attack for the Vikes was Giovanni McClean, third in the nation in assists with 7.4 per game. McClean is currently receiving interest from St. John's, Oklahoma, Memphis, and Duquesne, among others.

 Luis Montero, who averaged 15.6 points and 5.6 boards playing off McClean in the backcourt, has entertained steady interest from Alabama, LSU, Penn State, and Oklahoma State.