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January 11, 2005

Elite programs recruiting 2006 forward

This past summer, Lance Thomas shook up one of the country's basketball hotbeds when he decided to transfer from Scotch-Plains High School to St. Benedict's Prep -- one of the most tradition-rich programs in northern New Jersey who is coached by the legendary Dan Hurley.

Carolina Blue recently spoke to the 6-foot-8, 210-pound small forward, who is ranked the No. 21 prospect from the class of 2006, and asked how the move is going?

"We're having a really good season," Thomas said. "We're 11-1 and we won the Kingdom of the Sun tournament in Florida. The teams in that tournament played a lot more physical than we were used to, but we dug it out and won it all."

That one loss came last week to St. Patrick's Prep and its star center Derrick Caracter, who held off a late rally to beat St. Benedict's, 53-44, in front of sold-out crowd in Newark. Caracter, who is ranked the No. 6 prospect from the class of 2006, scored six of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, grabbed 17 rebounds and added three blocks. Thomas scored 10 points.

"I started off pretty sluggish and didn't really have that great of an offensive game," Thomas said. "But, personally I did all the little things to keep us moving as a team.
"We just didn't rebound the ball well and we didn't make our free throws. Those were the keys to our loss."

Ironically, Thomas credits Caracter with much of the reason he has turned into such a coveted prospect. Caracter also played at Scotch-Plains and the duo were teammates for their first two years of high school.

"It did wonders for my game," said Thomas of going up against Caracter. "He is amazing and playing against him everyday in practice only made me better. I really think that is how I got the break for my career."

That career is looking very promising and full of options. Several elite programs are pursuing Thomas.

"I'm looking at Arizona, Duke, Georgia Tech, Florida and Syracuse," Thomas said. "North Carolina is in the mix, along with Wake Forest, Georgia, UConn, Rutgers and others."

Arizona, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kansas Maryland, Rutgers, Seton Hall and Syracuse have all offered scholarships. Florida coach Billy Donavon and Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt both came to see Thomas play at the Kingdom of Sun tourney.

Thomas said he doesn't have any favorites yet, but his uncle Mike Montgomery -- who is very close with the teenager -- has been quoted in GOAZCATS.com as saying that he will likely visit, Duke, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, UConn, UNC and Wake Forest.

Thomas, who has been compared to former Duke star Lou Deng, describes himself as a "well-balanced" and "unselfish" player who can hurt defenses form the perimeter or in the paint.

But, Thomas would much rather talk about his teammates than himself. St. Benedict's is loaded with future Division-I players -- including Eugune Harvey (four-star prospect from the class of 2006) and Frank Tchuisi (Villanova commit from the class of 2005).

"Eugune was named MVP of the Kingdom of Sun," Thomas said. "He was outstanding and our best player there."



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