LAS VEGAS - Adonis Thomas notices the coaches watching his games because he takes a quick look around to see which programs have followed him this summer. Saturday's matchup in the auxiliary gym at Rancho High was no different.
There was Memphis coach Josh Pastner stationed on the baseline right by the Memphis Magic bench. Tennessee's Bruce Pearl sat under the basket. Florida assistant coach Richard Pitino was seen on the sideline. Other coaches were there to see Thomas as well - and the five-star prospect made sure to pick them out.
"I check where every coach recruiting me is (sitting)," Thomas said. "They say they're going to be at my games and I try to hold them to their word so that can help me out with my recruitment. Every once in a while I get to look around the gym and we get eye contact so it's always good."
Rated as the fifth-best small forward and No. 18 overall by Rivals.com, Thomas believes Pearl and Pastner have been to "every single one" of his games this week in Las Vegas and guessed that both coaches have seen him play about 20 times this spring and summer in AAU ball.
A source close to the Memphis program said Thomas is the Tigers' No. 1 target in the 2011 class. Both programs have been recruiting the 6-foot-6, 205-pound small forward from Memphis (Tenn.) Melrose since ninth grade.
All the love is great but Thomas wasn't ready to name a favorite program. He told Rivals.com's Eric Bossi earlier in the week that Memphis, Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, UCLA and Oklahoma were all being considered. He said UCLA, Kentucky and Texas are the three newest teams involved.
"They're just the two schools (Memphis and Tennessee) that have been recruiting me since I was in ninth grade," Thomas said. "They've always been in my recruitment. They've always been showing interest in me. I wouldn't say they're the two highest schools on my list but they've been recruiting me for a long time.
"It's great for me knowing I have two schools after me since I was so young and they wanted to see me develop into an even better player."
Thomas is a workhorse, too, constantly going after loose balls and playing with smoothness to his game. The Memphis standout likes that reputation and said he strives to play that way on the AAU level because he knows things are going to get more challenging in college. He wants to be ready.
"It's great for me getting better going into my senior season and getting ready for college," Thomas said. "I know I have to compete on the highest level so I know how intense I have to play in these games."
Another reason is because all the coaches are watching.