As documented consistently here at The Fizz over the past few months, Mike Hopkins and Rob Murphy are throwing 7s and 11s at a furious rate on the prep craps table.
Next year’s class appears to be one of the most talented (and highest ranked) in school history. Plus, the Orange is at very least still on the radar for Josh Selby and Brandon Knight.
But one recruit that still has everyone guessing is the nomadic Shaquille Thomas out of NIA Prep in Newark.
Shaq is on his fourth high school in four years and is the nephew of… wait for it… Villanova star and NBA veteran Tim Thomas.
Alex Schwartz, one of the foremost authorities on the Northeast prep scene, tellsThe Fizz:
“Shaq was originally class of 2010. He’s a 6’6″ wing. He had sort of committed to Syracuse at one point. He had called the SU coaches wanting to commit, from what I read they did not take his commitment until Tim said it was ok. His academic situation is a little up in the air because he’s a transfer.”
The collateral damage USC is experiencing after the O.J. Mayo disaster would make any program a little hesitant to take on a kid who’s transfered as many times in the last four years as Arinze Onuaku has made free throws.
Uncle Tim’s involvement is interesting, as well. It’s one thing to lean on a trusted family member who has been through the rigors of high-stakes recruitment.
But according to one recount of the story, Hopkins wouldn’t accept Shaq’s commitment until everyone knew that Tim was cool with it. Hopefully Tim’s just being protective of his nephew. Nothing wrong with that. You just wonder how much guidance a young man is getting when he’s being pulled out of schools every 10 months.
From Zag’s Blog: “He called Syracuse associate head coach Mike Hopkins on Tuesday to say he wanted to commit, but Hopkins told Thomas he had to clear it first with Tim and Dorothy Thomas and his coaches.”
Back to Schwartz: “He’s got a lot of talent. He’s an amazing athlete. He’s a kid I think Syracuse is really interested in. There’s definitely mutual interest there. He can really play.”
So who else is in on the newest baby Shaq?
“He got offered by Seton Hall back when he was a freshman. Being from New Jersey, Rutgers wants to keep him in state. St. John’s is gonna be involved. I think schools are still waiting on him because of his academic situation.”
Sounds like Shaq may be an incredible talent, but he has a battalion of red flags following his march.