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Saturday, March 27, 2010

ESPN: Versatility key to Adonis Thomas' success

ESPN: Versatility key to Adonis Thomas' success

By Matt Scott
Special to

Adonis Thomas is currently the No. 13 ranked player in the ESPNU Super 60 (ranking the class of 2011), but he just might have the biggest upside of the 12 players ranked ahead of him. At 6-foot-6, 205 pounds, Thomas simply can do everything on a basketball court -- with or without the ball.

Try to take his outside jumpshot away, which he improved upon throughout his junior season, and Thomas will use his quick first step and developing ball handling abilities to get to the rim. Take his driving ability away, and Thomas is more than willing to knock down shots from the perimeter. Thomas elevates the play of his teammates when on the court. His toughness and leadership qualities are legendary throughout his hometown of Memphis, Tenn.

To Thomas, losing isn't an option. Last weekend, Thomas and his Melrose High School teammates captured the Tennessee state championship by defeating Joe Jackson, Andre Hollins and White Station High School. The win in the state title game gave Melrose its fourth win of the year over league opponent and state powerhouse White Station. In the title game, Thomas contributed 19 points and 13 rebounds and was named to the state's all-tournament team.

According to Melrose coach Jermaine Johnson, Thomas has been the key ingredient in creating a powerhouse basketball program in Tennessee.

"Right before we got here three years ago, the program had won four games," Johnson explained. "Since we got here, the program has gotten better every year and I would say that he is the founding father of the program."

According to Johnson, it's not just what Thomas does on the offensive end of the floor that makes him a special player. It's his approach on defense that separates him from other players in the 2011 class.

"He takes pride in it," Johnson said. "He's so versatile, and he's probably the best defender in the country."

On the offensive end of the court, Johnson is quick to point out what everyone instantly sees when watching Thomas: his versatility.

"He plays a little bit like Kevin Durant. He's not as great of an outside shooter as Durant, but he brings that same kind of versatility," said Johnson. "He can play the 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 at the high school level.

"He's just a winner. He's won a gold medal with team USA this past summer, his AAU team won the Super 64 in Vegas and we just won a state title."

Johnson couldn't be more proud of his superstar player.

"He's a great person," said Johnson. "He's an outstanding student and even takes the time to go to elementary school to read to the kids."

With his high school season now complete, Thomas will start preparing for his last stint on the summer circuit. The summer will be filled with some of the top programs in the country filling the stands to watch Thomas. According to the small forward, the list of schools he is looking at is long and changes almost daily.

"I'm looking at Florida, UTEP, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Memphis, Tennessee, Ohio State, Kansas, Arkansas, North Carolina; and a lot more schools are still there too," said Thomas.

Thomas is hoping to find a school that not only produces on the court, but in the classroom as well. Being comfortable with his teammates on the court and with fellow students in the classroom are two things that could strongly influence his decision.

"Good academic environment, good program and a history of producing NBA players," said Thomas.

He also stressed chemistry with the players on the team, which may give the University of Memphis and coach Josh Pastner an ace up their sleeve. Thomas is an AAU teammate (Memphis Magic) and close friend of four of Memphis' 2010 commitments -- Chris Crawford, Tarik Black, Jackson and Jelan Kendrick.

With schools like Florida, Ohio State and Kansas currently on his list, it would seem that distance might not be much of a factor for Thomas.

Coaches and fans shouldn't hope for a decision anytime soon from Thomas. With so many top basketball schools in the country making up his list, Thomas will surely take his time with his decision so that he is 100 percent confident with the school he chooses.

Matt Scott writes for ESPN affiliate and Kansas team site

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