Friday, Ohio State junior Deshaun Thomas declared he would forego his senior season to enter the NBA Draft. Although Buckeyes fans may be disappointed to lose such a talent, this was the right decision for Thomas.
Thomas was a great college basketball player. He led the Big Ten in scoring with 19.8 ppg, while taking and making the most shots in the conference this past season. Thomas’ offensive excellence this season paid off as he was selected as a first-team All Big Ten player.
He carried an otherwise questionable on offense Ohio State team to the Elite Eight before losing his final game in the Elite Eight, and will always be fondly remembered as a Buckeye. However, now it is time for the next stage in his basketball life.
First off, when you have the choice to play basketball for potentially millions of dollars, you take the money. Graduating college is great, but it can wait. Basketball players have a small window in their lives to make the most of their talent before it is gone, and Thomas is smart to do so.
The next question becomes: where will Thomas be drafted?
The most recent Draft Express mock draft has Thomas going 22nd in the second round. That is a very low pick in a league where even late first-round picks don’t usually have long careers. There have been second round picks out of college who have enjoyed successful careers recently, like Mo Williams, Paul Milsap, Carlos Boozer and Marcus Thornton. However, those are four names out of 300 second-round picks in the last ten years.
So, you might be asking: why not return to school and try again next year in the draft?
There is almost nothing Thomas could do at Ohio State next season to improve his NBA stock. If anything, returning to school would hurt his draft stock even more.
NBA teams want players with high potential, not just good college numbers. The problem for Thomas is that he doesn’t look like a high-ceiling player.
While Thomas can score in college, he isn’t particularly athletic or explosive. He used his 6-foot-7 frame to score in the paint and shoot over smaller wings on the perimeter, but won’t be able to exploit his size in the NBA. He will be just another small forward who can stretch to power forward. Thomas also was not a terrific defender at Ohio State, a necessity for unheralded rookies if they want to make it big.
Despite all of those negatives, Thomas has to take a chance here. Returning to Ohio State would probably lead to another huge scoring display and another season in the collegiate spotlight, but it is time to move on and test his skills at the next level. Thomas has nothing left to prove in college, but will have a whole lot to prove in the pros.