- Austin Ward, College Football
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Deshaun Thomas elected to stick around for one more season at Ohio State once, but he won't be doing it twice.
The junior forward announced his decision to declare for the NBA draft on Friday, less than a week after an upset loss to Wichita State kept the Buckeyes from advancing to the Final Four and ultimately ended a productive career for Thomas with the program.
"My three years at Ohio State have been the best years of my life," Thomas said in a school release. "I have grown tremendously as a basketball player. I intend to return to finish my degree, but I believe now is the best opportunity to pursue my dream and begin my career as a professional basketball player."
Thomas has a lengthy, impressive résumé as a collegian, including a Final Four appearance, a pair of trips to the Elite Eight, the ninth-highest point total in school history and a scoring crown in the competitive Big Ten during his last season with the Buckeyes.
And while there are still some doubts about how well his game will translate to the next level despite all his offensive talent, his stock might not get much higher with another year of seasoning at Ohio State after already putting the NBA off once.
"To see Deshaun grow into the man he has become has been amazing," Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said in the release. "His accomplishments on the floor speak for themselves, but I am just as proud of him and what he has done off the floor.
"We recruited him offering the opportunity to grow as a person and player, and that is exactly what happened. I know there is much more in store for him in the future and I am proud to have been able to coach him."
Matta still has plenty of talent around to perhaps make another deep run in the tournament next year even without another chance to coach Thomas, with veteran point guard Aaron Craft available for one more season and a talented class of sophomores returning as well.
But Thomas won't be easy to replace after averaging nearly 20 points per game as a junior, posting the third-highest single-season point total in Ohio State history on the way to the Elite Eight.
"I will always be a Buckeye," Thomas said. "And [I'm] blessed to be a part of the Ohio State family."
Deshaun Thomas elected to stick around for one more season at Ohio State once, but he won't be doing it twice.