Deshaun Thomas has a big opportunity to showcase himself on national TV this Saturday when he and his Bishop Luers (Fort Wayne, Ind.) teammates take on Lawrence North (Indianapolis, Ind.) at 4 p.m. EST on ESPNU.
The scoring sensation also has a chance to make history this season.
Thomas is within striking distance of the hallowed Indiana state record for career points (3,134) held by 1990 ESPN RISE Mr. Basketball USA winner Damon Bailey of Bedford North Lawrence (Bedford, Ind.). Thomas enters Friday's content against rival Wayne (Fort Wayne, Ind.) with 2,796 points.
"I've never met him," said Thomas about Bailey. "I've heard good things about him and know he was more than just a good shooter. It'd be cool if he showed up at one of the games and supported me, stuff like that. I'd like to get to meet him as I get closer to the record."
Rated the nation's No. 12 recruit in the ESPNU 100, the Ohio State-bound Thomas downplays his individual achievements. However, Thomas' coaches, teammates and fans are keenly aware of the situation.
"I've talked to Deshaun about it, but he's the last guy that talks about all that stuff," said Bishop Luers assistant coach Mitch Sturm. "It's everyone else that reminds him. Everywhere he goes, Ohio State fans and our fans are like, 'You got to get that (scoring) record.' If he doesn't get the record, he won't be devastated because he's a team-first guy."
Thomas has been amazingly consistent in his four-year prep career, averaging between 21.3 and 21.5 shots per game in his first three seasons, according to Sturm. This season, he's taking approximately 22.8 shots per game. Sturm feels there are aspects of Thomas' game that are underrated and will blossom once he gets to Columbus.
"His assists numbers are lower than they should be," Sturm said. "He's a much better passer than people think. That's not demeaning our players, but at the next level he'll be playing with guys that are all threats (to score)."
Sturm also said Thomas' teammates don't mind the big man in campus getting most of the attention and accolades.
"When we played (ESPN RISE FAB 50 No. 1) Northland (an 88-67 loss), we were clearly in over our heads," Sturm said. "Our guys take losing hard, but in that game, they put Deshaun in a position to shine. They won't come out and admit it, but I guarantee that was their goal. They did it because he's such a good teammate."