Scotch-Plains High School in Fanwood, N.J., has been associated with class of 2006 sensation Derrick Caracter for the last couple of years, but he isn't the only major prospect at the school. Lance Thomas, a 6-foot-8, 195-pound small forward, is also one of the top players in the rising junior class. In the last two months, he has become on of the hottest names on the AAU circuit.
Thomas, who plays for the New Heights AAU program, was named to the all-tourney team at the 5-Star Hoop Classic three weeks ago and shined at his team’s tournament in New York City last weekend. Thomas also played well at the Kingwood Classic and the Capitol Invitational. Not bad for his first taste of high-level basketball.
“Everything has been real competitive so far,” Thomas said. “I haven’t really been exposed to this type of competition or coaches before. It’s new and it’s a lot of fun to expose my talent and see where I rank amongst everyone else. I’ve been grateful for the time to showcase my talent.”
Playing with Caracter, who is ranked No. 3 by Rivals.com, has helped Thomas expand his game in nearly every facet, he says. The two have been playing together since the fourth grade and have helped each other develop as players.
“We’ve been blessed to play together for so long,” Thomas said. “We go at it in practice and challenge each other. Derrick is bigger than everyone in high school basketball and even some college guys so going against him only gets me better. Plus, I think I’ve helped him improve on the wing. We just enhance each other’s games.”
So what is his game all about?
“I like to just run the floor and play that up and down style,” Thomas said. “Plus, I like to guard team’s best opponent. Plus I think I’m a pretty good rebounded and I can score. I’m very athletic. I think I can get up. Plus with my size, it’s gives teams problems because I can shoot the three.”
Because of his great versatility, Thomas has already struck interest from several high-majors. He said he isn’t too caught up in the recruiting process just yet. Nevertheless, he said Arizona, Syracuse, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Maryland are just a few of the schools sending him mail. He knows what he’d like in a program, too.
“I’m attracted to a school that gets up and down the court. That suits me the best,” Thomas said. “I like be that three man that finishes around the rim and just play defense. I think there are a lot of schools like that out there.”
Thomas, who will be ranked in the soon to be released updated class of 2006 rankings, said he’s looking forward to the coming summer months and playing in more events against the best of the best.
“I see myself pretty high (with the rest of the nation),” he said. “I know I have a lot of work to do. The road isn’t over yet. It’s just beginning. I’m hoping to have a really big summer.”
He will be at the Tournament of Champions this weekend in North Carolina. On Saturday, his New Heights team has a great match-up against the Michigan Hurricanes at 4:40 p.m. at Cameron Indoor Stadium on the campus of Duke University.