It has been one wild ride for four-star small forward Shaquille Thomas, but after moving from school to school the 6-foot-6 recruit hopes he has finally found a home to finish out his prep basketball days.
Thomas said he left Beckley (W.Va.) Mountain State Academy sometime in August, this after spending time at Montclair and Paterson Catholic in New Jersey, and has landed at Newark Islamic Academy Prep - where he has reclassified to the 2011 class.
"It's been a roller coaster, but I went through it and it's a struggle in life I had to go through," Thomas said. "I worked through it and it's looking good right now. After all this it's going to pay off now."
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The reason Thomas said he left Mountain State Academy is because there were changes to the coaching staff and he felt more comfortable returning to the New York metro area to be closer to family.
He thinks it will also help being closer to the colleges recruiting him, which include St. John's, Providence, Rutgers and Seton Hall. Fordham, Syracuse and Xavier were other programs involved. Rivals.com rates Thomas as the No. 77 prospect in 2010.
"It's a good feeling being back home with my family and friends and I can go home every day, there's no campus here, so I can go home every day to my grandmother and brother and my family," Thomas said.
"If I had a problem at West Virginia, my grandmother wasn't there to help me. It was pretty difficult in West Virginia. Now everything is turning out good."
One of Thomas' hopes is that the extra year in high school - he's now considered a part of the junior class - is that it will boost his recruitment. He plans to work on his body and his game, but most importantly his academics so programs won't be scared away.
Since his experience at Mountain State Academy was difficult it has changed his outlook on where he'd like to play college basketball, too.
Thomas is not restricting himself to only schools in the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast but he's taking a closer look at those programs and would prefer to stay closer to home.
"My grades are good now and improving a lot and it's going real good especially with the basketball," Thomas said. "We beat Maine (Central Institute) and Bridgeton Saturday and Sunday. We have a really good team.
"My recruitment is going to go more because I'm a 2011 kid and 2010 scholarships weren't there, so now I think I'm going to get more scholarships and I'm definitely going to work on my body and my game so I can improve even more. It's going to be great for me academically and basketball-wise."
NIA Prep plays New Hampton School and Brewster Academy at the National Prep Showcase at Alberus Magnus College in New Haven, Conn., on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.