The end has come for Lance Thomas. After a long, well-thought out process that extend two years of visits, conversations and evaluations, the 6-foot-8 forward from St. Benedict's High School in Newark, N.J. announced at a press conference on Thursday that is headed to Duke.
After making multiple visits to Duke and Rutgers, as well as flirting with the newly crowned national champs Florida, Thomas said he was ready to expand his game in the ACC under Coach K.
"I'm very confident in my decision. They have everything that I was looking for," Thomas said at his press conference. "It's a great atmosphere. I'm looking forward to getting down there. When basketball is over for me, having a Duke degree is going to be good under my belt. It's the best fit for me."
Thomas, a McDonald's All-American, joins fellow Jersey native Brian Zoubek, Philadelphia wing Gerald Henderson and Chicago guard Jon Scheyer in Duke's 2006 class. With his non-stop motor, rebounding skills and midrange game, Thomas helps glue all of the pieces together with this recruiting haul.
"Thomas will give Duke some length, quickness and energy on defense and on the boards as a combo forward player," Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Jerry Meyer said. "Offensively, he will put pressure on opponents by running the floor and will be primarily a pick and pop/roll guy and rebounder in the half court."
Thomas made no secrets about his goals in basketball and how Duke can help him reach them.
"My ultimate goal is to be a pro and as soon as I get on campus they are going to help me do that," Thomas said.
"One of the big things with them was player development and I think with my work ethic, I can grow a lot there. I want to continue working on my game. If that takes four years or two years, I don't know. I'm not going to rush it. I'm just focused on getting better."
Duke has been a major player with the high-energy forward for two years. The Blue Devil buzz surrounding Thomas began when he shined at Duke during the Tournament of Champions. Since then, Duke made Thomas a high priority in the class of 2006.
Recently, Thomas traveled to Duke's campus twice in the last two months. Once on a visit for the North Carolina game in March and three weeks ago en route to the South Carolina beaches for a family vacation.
Even with a number of visits under his belt, people wondered why his decision was taking as long as it did. Thomas said the extra time thinking paid off.
"It was well worth the wait," Thomas said. "I have no regrets whatsoever. There were no questions that went unanswered. Duke had all of the things that I was looking for."
At the end of the day, Thomas said Duke provided him with a balance of athletics and education.
"When it came down to it, they basically had all of the things that I valued as a person," Thomas said.