NCB On The Trail: Elijah Thomas

Recruit and return: Texas A&M Aggies 

March, 23, 2015
Mar 23
videoTo make it to the NCAA tournament, a team needs contributions from both returning players and incoming recruits. Here's a look at Texas A&M and its chances of making it to the dance in 2016 after narrowly missing out this season. Quick references: 2014-15 roster 2015 recruiting Possible 2015-16 starting five G: Alex Caruso G: Alex Robinson F: Jalen Jones F: Danuel House C: Tyler Davis
Elijah Thomas has been a touted recruit for a few years now, ranking among the top-10 prospects in the country back when he was a sophomore.

While he's dipped a little bit in the class, the 6-foot-9 Texas A&M signee still was among the nominees to be selected to the McDonald's All American game. When the rosters were revealed on Wednesday evening, though, only one Texan was listed and it wasn't Thomas.

And the No. 29-ranked prospect in the ESPN 100 took to Twitter and used some self-deprecating humor to demonstrate his dismay at the snub.

The disparaging comments started early this season -- like first-night-of-the-season early.

That’s when Missouri lost at home to UMKC and Ole Miss fell in overtime against Charleston Southern. After back-to-back seasons of only three NCAA tournament bids for the SEC, most thought it would be more of the same this campaign.

[+] EnlargeBen Simmons
Courtesy Steven RyanLSU landing No. 1 prospect Ben Simmons is huge not just for the Tigers but for the SEC as a whole.
Not much has changed since, with only four SEC teams in Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology -- including two teams (LSU and Georgia) among the “Last Four Byes.” If that holds, it means the SEC will have received 14 NCAA tournament bids over the last four seasons, the lowest among the Power 5 conferences by a significant amount.

That should shift dramatically over the next few seasons, though, as the SEC’s “other” teams have improved the talent level in the league with the Class of 2015 more than perhaps any other conference. Kentucky has the No. 1 class in the country and Florida sits at No. 8, but those two are the annual staples at the top of the standings -- this season’s Gators notwithstanding.

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Texas A&M signs top-five class

November, 12, 2014
ESPN 100 center Tyler Davis headlines Texas A&M's second-ranked class on Aggies head coach Billy Kennedy announced Davis' signing along with three other ESPN 100 prospects on Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period.

"Tyler is the first guy who committed to us in this class and really got this whole thing going," Kennedy told the school's website. "He's from a great family and great school at Plano West. On the court, he’s a big-body guy who can score around the basket and also step out and make a 15-footer. He does so many things well. He’s got a great motor and can pass the ball, but one of the biggest things I like about him is he’s got a nastiness and a toughness about him on the court."

The other signees for Kennedy and the Aggies are ESPN 100 center Elijah Thomas, ESPN 100 small forward D.J. Hogg and ESPN 100 shooting guard Admon Gilder.

"Elijah is a very versatile player and one of the first guys we offered a scholarship to three years ago," Kennedy said. "He comes from a great family and basketball program at Lancaster High School.

"I really think D.J. is the best shooter in the country. He can put it on the floor as well as do a lot of things on the perimeter, but the one thing he really excels at is shooting the ball and scoring."

“Admon is a combo guard who can really score. He's in the mold of Dominique Kirk and Donald Sloan, a guard who can play any of the one, two or three spots."

Texas A&M's class ranks No. 2 overall on

Roundtable: Analyzing the early signing period 

November, 12, 2014

College basketball's early signing period begins Wednesday, and while 78 of the ESPN 100's prospects have committed to schools across the country, it's time to put pen to paper. Our RecruitingNation analysts break down what they expect to see before the signing window closes on Nov. 19.

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Texas A&M turns heads with 2015 class 

October, 27, 2014
When Tyler Davis chose Texas A&M over the likes of Kansas and Arizona back in August, it was met with a collective eyebrow raise.

Even by some of those closest to him.

"Some people were disappointed, even in my own family," Davis told "They were like, ‘Why would you go there?'"

The surprises continued over the past two months, as Texas A&M has picked up three more commitments from 2015 ESPN 100 prospects to earn the No. 2 recruiting class in the country up to this point. Following Davis (No. 20) were D.J. Hogg (No. 35), Admon Gilder (No. 64) and last Tuesday, Elijah Thomas (No. 29).

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Center Elijah Thomas, ranked No. 29 in the ESPN 100, committed to Texas A&M on Tuesday over finalists LSU, Illinois, SMU and Oklahoma State. Thomas gives Aggies head coach Billy Kennedy his fourth ESPN 100 prospect from the state of Texas in the 2015 class. Let's take a look at what Thomas will bring to the A&M program:

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One of the more intriguing recruitments in the class of 2015 has been that of Elijah Thomas, the 6-foot-9 post player from Lancaster, Texas. Thomas has been on the national scene for a few years, and plenty of colleges have rotated in and out of his school list. Multiple schools have been considered the favorite at one point or another, even over the past month. That comes to an end this week.

Thomas will make his college decision on Tuesday afternoon, and five schools remain for his commitment: Illinois, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, SMU and LSU. He took official visits to each school, but the possibility of success is more important to the Dallas-area prospect.

“The deciding factor will be which school will win,” Thomas said. “That’s what I want to do my freshman year. My priority is to go in and win right away.”

Ranked No. 29 in the ESPN100, Thomas will likely find early playing time at whichever school he chooses, but let’s take a look at how he fits at each one.

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Five 2015 classes off to fast starts 

June, 3, 2014
As we turn our attention to the Class of 2015 and the newly released ESPN 100, here’s a look at five college basketball programs that have a head start on the 2015 recruiting trail:

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#AskCoachB: Big targets for Duke

January, 9, 2014
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.

First of all, that's a great question because the Blue Devils will -- in all likelihood -- lose Jahlil Okafor after one season. I would not get caught up as to who can play the 5-spot. You can win in college basketball with elite power forwards if they do their job by defending and showing the ability to defend bigger players and rebound. It's important they display the skill to score both inside and away from the basket. Duke will need size in 2015.

In addition to ESPN No. 5 Diamond Stone (Milwaukee, Wis./ Dominican) who the Blue Devils have made deep inroads with, Duke is involved with the big man from Texas -- ESPN No. 6 Elijah Thomas (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster) and super shot blocker and ESPN No. 8 Skal Labissiere (Memphis, Tenn. Evangelical Christian).

Speaking of elite power forwards, the Blue Devils are in the mix for ESPN No. 10 Carlton Bragg (Cleveland, Ohio/ St. Joseph) and ESPN No. 37 Chase Jeter(Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman), who is an above average post up player and rebounder.

We are a long way from 2015, but for college coaches who are recruiting, the early period is when you begin your evaluations and show attention to the ones you want to get.

Breaking down the new 2015 ESPN 60 

September, 25, 2013
Malik NewmanAP Photo/Charles SmithCallaway, Miss., shooting guard Malik Newman might be No. 1 in the 2015 ESPN 60, but a deep class of big men will challenge him for that spot over the next 18 months.
We’ve processed a full summer worth of action and now our updated ESPN 60 includes the top national prospects in the 2015 recruiting class. Here’s 10 things every college basketball fan should know as this class heads into its junior season:

1. A battle for the top spot

There’s a new No. 1 in town, and while Paul Biancardi breaks down why Malik Newman (Jackson, Miss./Callway) is the new top dog, I’m here to tell you this race is far from over. The previous No. 1 Ivan Rabb (Oakland, Calif./Bishop O’Dowd) is going to want his title back, and no one is making a more aggressive charge to the top of the rankings than Stephen Zimmerman (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) who has been coming on strong all spring and summer. Ben Simmons (Melbourne, Australia/Montverde Academy), Diamond Stone (Milwaukee/Dominican), and Elijah Thomas (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster) are three other guys who will challenge in the coming 18 months as the top spot is still very much up for grabs moving forward in the 2015 class.

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Notebook: Big weekend in Aggieland 

September, 13, 2013
Who’s that guy headed to Xavier? Buffalo? They landed a top-100 player? Plus who’s spending the weekend in College Station? All this and more as we empty the notebook.

Hanging with Johnny Football

[+] EnlargeJustise Winslow
Chris Williams/Icon SMIESPN 100 wing Justise Winslow is looking to visit Texas A&M this weekend and Florida next weekend.
The biggest football extravaganza this weekend takes us to College Station, Texas, where Johnny Football faces the best professional college team in the country, Alabama. Can you imagine how many recruits requested a campus visit that weekend?

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LAS VEGAS -- The fifth and final day at the elite AAU events in Las Vegas on Sunday had a little bit of everything.

It began with a lights-out shooting performance from ESPN 100 point guard Riley LaChance (Brookfield, Wis./Brookfield Central), followed by a spectacular scoring outburst by ESPN 60 shooting guard Tyler Dorsey (Los Angeles/St. John Bosco).

As the day wore on, ESPN 100 Maryland commit Romelo Trimble (Arlington, Va./Bishop O’Connell) found his shooting groove while 2015 shooting guard Jeffrey McClendon (Pasadena, Calif./Pasadena) proved that playing lockdown defense can garner attention as well.

Finally, the last game of the day was a tilt between two of the more highly acclaimed 2016 ESPN 25 prospects in Deadrick Lawson (Memphis, Tenn./Hamilton) and Joe Hampton (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha), with Lawson leading his Team Penny to the U15 championship over Hampton's DC Assault squad.

Here’s a closer look at some of the best performances from Day 5 at the Las Vegas Classic and Las Vegas Fab 48.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Basketball is a global game, and that was apparent at this past weekend’s Nike Global Challenge. After a spring and summer full of competition with the Nike EYBL circuit, the Nike Skills Academies and the Peach Jam, 40 of the top U.S. high school basketball players were brought together on four regional teams to compete in the invite-only Global Challenge against teams from Canada, Pan-Africa, Brazil and France.

At the conclusion of the eight-team, three-day tournament featuring some of the world’s top young hoops prospects, the USA West team emerged with the championship following a 98-95 victory over USA South. Uncommitted ESPN 100 small forward Stanley Johnson (Fullerton, Calif./Mater Dei) for the West and Ohio State-bound shooting guard D'Angelo Russell (Louisville, Ky./Montverde Academy) for the South were named co-MVPs of the event for the U.S. contingent. Johnson led all scorers with 23 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in the championship game.

With so much talent from not just the United States but across the world on display for three days, here are five things we learned from the 2013 Nike Global Challenge.

Stanley Johnson
Courtesy of NikeESPN 100 SF Stanley Johnson continued his strong summer with a co-MVP performance at the Global Challenge.
The deepest position in 2014

We are two-thirds of the way through the July recruiting period, but these players have been playing on the travel team circuit since April and it's clear that the wing position -- the shooting guards and small forwards -- has an elite group that scores easy and often.

The Global Challenge only confirmed that thought as the collection of wing talent was elite. It's the deepest position in the 2014 class, and the core players at the top are starting to separate themselves because of their ability to consistently score, play at a high level and win.

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ESPN 100 prospects star at Peach Jam 

July, 12, 2013
Editor's note: This is the latest entry in Dave Telep's July Road Trip blog. Throughout the month, Dave will check in each day he's on the road while covering some of the biggest basketball recruiting events in the country. He'll let you know where he's at, offer some highlights of the day and give a quick look at what's next.

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Thirty minutes before the start of the second session at the Nike Peach Jam on Thursday, the rains came. And it rained. And rained harder. And kept raining and then rained some more. A torrential downpour gave the event a new perspective.

Watching assistant coaches sprint to the gym so they wouldn’t be late to a game was kind of fun. Without any scholarships to give out, the best seat in the house for me was in the car until there was a letup in the downpour.

Sandwiched around the rain, however, there was some great action on the court and a who's who of big-time college coaches on hand to watch. Here are some nuggets from the first official day of the Nike EYBL finals at the Peach Jam.

[+] EnlargePaul White
Dave Telep/ESPN ESPN 100 PF Paul White put on a show in front of coaches from Florida, Memphis, Wisconsin, UConn, Michigan State and Illinois.
White turns in one of his best days of the summer

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