At the behest of SwedishHamma, although this should have been a regular feature already, we will start going in-depth on all of the incoming and potential recruits in both basketball and football. With us already concentrating on the football season, I will begin with previewing the basketball recruits; all seven of whom figure to be important next season, with all that professional basketball has taken from us. I will be previewing them in order from worst-to-first (of course, this is simply my opinion; reasonable minds can and will disagree), beginning with the lone 3-STAR recruit in our class, according to Rivals: Quintrell Thomas.
Weight: 225 Lbs.
Rivals Stars: 3
Scout Stars: 4
THE HIGH SCHOOL CAREER
Quintrell Thomas played at Saint Patrick's High School, a miniscule school in Elizabethtown, New Jersey which has only 250 kids. In the entire school. However, despite the relatively minute talent pool to choose from, they were one of the premier high school basketball programs last season, led by their two Division 1 prospects, Quintrell and Dexter Strickland (who is on his way to Chapel Hill). Last season, however, Thomas and Strickland teamed up with Jeff Robinson and Corey Fisher, who played as freshmen for Memphis and Villanova, respectively. The foursome took home a New Jersey State Championship, beating the famed Bobby Hurley Sr.-led St. Anthony's squad. But that isn't all that important. Because of the other talent on the roster, Thomas was cast off as a role player of sorts, a rebounder-and-dunker who rarely was granted the opportunity to showcase his more-athletic skills.
This season, on the other hand, provided Thomas an opportunity to shine. And while his recruitment was hot in the fall, when he decided to narrow it down to Kansas, Maryland, UNLV and Rutgers, he became a big name in the recruiting world months after his October 23rd committment to the Jayhawks. As has been done for years, some of the best High School programs in both New York and New Jersey meet up in January for 'Super Six', which showcases the best programs in the two states. The games, all of which are played at the revered Madison Square Garden, featured four teams that were in USA Today's Super 25, the lowest of which was ranked 12th (Russell Robinson's alma mater, Rice High School). Saint Patrick's took on Saint Raymond's, the #8 team in the entire country, where, under the bright lights of national exposure, Quintrell Thomas exploded. 25 points, 13 rebounds, game MVP. Scout's Mike Sullivan summarized the game by saying:
But the best player on the court was Thomas, who slammed home six dunks and electrified the crowd with his around the rim play.
ESPN's Christopher Lawlor also had all positives on Quintrell Thomas:
Thomas' elite performance included 25 points, making 9 of 11 shots (and three dunks), 13 rebounds (10 defensive) and three blocks in 30 minutes.
"He brought an intimidation factor for the quick guards that like to slice," St. Patrick coach Kevin Boyle said.
Patrick Stevens of CSTV included a lengthy quote from Thomas' Coach, Kevin Boyle, regarding Quintrell:
"He brought the intimidation factor we were looking for," Boyle said of his stud 6-foot-7 power forward. "Going up against those city guards who get to the rim and can create, I told him if he has to get a goaltend right away then we'll take it. He gave us a good 5 or 7 shot blocks, did his usual consistent rebounding, and was able to knock down that face-up jumper he's been working at."
And finally, Austin Burton of Dime Magazine, in its report card on the Super Six event, had a glowing report of Quintrell:
Every time you looked up, Thomas was getting a dunk on the collective heads of St. Ray’s. Of his nine made field goals, at least six or seven were dunks. The Kansas-bound forward was, as St. Pat’s coach Kevin Boyle said, “A man against high school guys.” And while he was given credit for three rejections, Quintrell also altered a ton of shots and set the tone early as a shot-blocking presence that St. Raymond’s guards didn’t want to challenge.
Every single person who was at the Super Six event wrote glowingly of Quintrell, in what could have been the best game (considering the stage, opposition, etc.) of his entire life. He knocked down the mid-range jumper, he was a major force in the paint altering shots left-and-right and he was a factor above the rim. This Super Six output, 25 points 13 rebounds and 3 blocks, is likely the celing of his Kansas career. But more on that later; Quintrell's High School career did not end following his magical Super Six performance.
Just as in 2006, and what seemed like every year, St. Pat's and St. Anthony's met up in the State Championship game. This time, however, with the absence of Fisher and Robinson, the game went in Bobby Hurley Sr.'s favor, forcing Quintrell's High School career to end in disappointment.
We already went over Quintrell's finalists (Kansas, Maryland, UNLV and Rutgers) before he finally decided on coming to Kansas, but what led to that decision. After all, as he said, he knows almost the entire Rutgers basketball team, and with that being his homestate team-and-all, wouldn't that be his choice. Of course, looking at it the other way, it is no contest. Rutgers, every year, fights-and-scraps just to be included in the Big East Tournament, having finished in the Top 12 in the conferece. They stand little chance of improving enough to skyrocket to an NCAA Tournament before Quintrell's eligibility clock runs out of time. Kansas, on the other hand, was coming off an Elite Eight appearance (at the time of his decision) with a legitimate chance of winning a National Title in the immediate future. Plus, that whole legacy thing. So, as we all know, Quintrell selected Kansas.
How did the recruiting services rate Quintrell, the Kansas commit? Scout was kinder to Quintrell than Rivals was, making him a 4-STAR recruit as opposed to Rivals' 3-STAR ranking. In terms of other Power Forwards, Scout was again more favorable, ranking him the 32nd best power forward as opposed to Rivals' 38th overall ranking. Overall rankings-wise, Rivals is more negative, ranking him at #150 compared to Scout ranking him 77th overall. What makes Scout's assessment of Quintrell especially odd is that they list him as 6'7", an entire inch shorter than Rivals' more generous listing of 6'8". Given the fact that the position he plays is wildly dependent on each-and-every inch, it is either a positive or negative, depending on how you look at it, that a) Scout likes him a lot even though they list him as 6'7" or b) Rivals doesn't like him as much, despite listing him an inch taller. Of course, I am probably blowing this way out of proportion, but it is kind of interesting.
Since he has come to Kansas in June, in order to attend Summer School, Quintrell has shown himself off twice to Kansas fans; at the Alumni Games at Bill Self's two separate weeks of his Basketball Camp. Julian Wright has dominated both games, Quintrell Thomas had himself two quality games. The first game, Quintrell dominated the glass, being the only big not named Cole Aldrich on the current roster, grabbing a game-high 11 points while picking up 13 points. Even more promising than the 13-and-11 line is Julian Wright's approval, of which he gave early and often regarding Quintrell: "Quintrell is looking really good". Plus, in a Q&A afterwards, Julian again was optimistic regarding Quintrell (and his roomate and fellow New Jerseyite Tyshawn Taylor), stating "Quintrell (Thomas, freshman) looked good, putting the ball on the floor, knocking down shots." However, that was only the first of two alumni games. The second one, Quintrell again impressed, scoring 15 points and grabbing 7 of the few rebounds that weren't immediately snatched away by the never-ending reach of Cole Aldrich's arms.
This first season, his freshman year, will be a telling one on how good Quintrell Thomas should end up being. With his height, his mostly (for a Kansas recruit, at least) low-key recruitment and his style of play Quintrell has often been compared to Darnell Jackson. And, of course, Darnell wasn't all that great of a player, relatively of course, until his senior season, where he exploded to go all crazy on all of us. Still, given the uncertainty regarding the Morris Twins and the complete dearth of all other bigs on our roster (besides Cole Aldrich, of course), Quintrell will be depended upon from the onset. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised for him to start from Game One and not be supplanted unless one of the Morris twins (most likely Markieff) thoroughly outplays Quintrell. All of this scares me. Kansas fans, what with our history and all that, expect a high-quality product to be placed on the court at all times. And, frankly, a team that starts Quintrell Thomas at the very beginning of his freshman year probably isn't going to be cutting down nets in the immediate future. So, while Quintrell has the potential to be awesome, he and the rest of his classmates will go through a learning curve.
One positive is that he did play high-quality competition, and frequently, while in High School. He shouldn't be as intimidated because of that, especially considering that he played with a 5-STAR recruit two years ago in High School in Corey Fisher. And, as the quotes have shown, he is an explosive player around the rim, something that Darnell never really was. From what I have read, he seems to be more athletic than Darnell, and has the potential to be a better rebounder than Darnell, and soon. Just like Darnell, he is supposed to play with a boatload of passion and heart and all of those intangibles that are often overrated in mostly non-emotional sports such as baseball, but are wildly important in basketball. Oh, and he can really dunk.
On the negative side of the ledger, there is one thing that he and Darnell have in common: lack of size. While listed at 6'8" by Rivals, most people who have seen him claim that he looks to be pushing 6'7", which is awfully small for a Big 12 PF. Still, given all of his intangibles and rebounding ability and all that fun stuff, it should work out, especially with Big Cole banging down low with him for much of the night. But the biggest negative I see in his game, and it isn't really close, is his lack of a consistent mid-range jumper. He has never had to knock it down, with his dexterity close tot he basket, but he will have to be able to step out and knock it down at Kansas. Plus, he seems to have gotten by on the Darrel-Arthur-patented-turnaround-fadeaway-unblockable-jumper, although the reports I've read lead me to believe it isn't as impossible-to-stop as DA's is. ESPN's Joel Fransisco lays into Quintrell in really the only negative thing I read when reasearching:
Quintrell Thomashas a chiseled frame with long arms and soft hands, but his post game, other than a solid looking turn-around jump shot, needs to tighten up to be an effective scorer in the Big 12 Conference.
Agreed on all accounts. And if Quintrell is really going to be starting for us soon, he should be in the gym bright-and-early every day, working on the jumper.
The jumper will be the key to his success, not only this season but his entire career at KU. If he proves that he is a force to be reckoned with from the perimeter, he will stretch out the defense, which will help out Big Cole a ton. However, while the jumper is the longterm key to success, he will need to rebound from the onset for him to be productive.
In summation, I think that Quintrell will have a career similar to that of Darnell Jackson's, but with a quicker learning curve. I expect him to be able to contribute this year and next moreso than Darnell, and then have the same massive improvements that Darnell had going into his senior season, transforming himself from a bench-guy to a starter on a National Championship team. And frankly, as long as everyone else in the class (I'm looking at you Marcus and Markieff) gets the 'OK' and is ready for the start of the season, that would be quite a haul from a guy that has gone this unregarded.
Editor's Note: This was a new thing for me, and I wasn't really sure how to do it. So, any of you who actually read my stuff, is this good? Is this what you want, Sweed? I know it is still kind of research-driven-reading, and isn't an update, but it is recruiting. I do plan on doing updates and stuff, but I wanted to try this out. Feel free to criticize or whatevs, the goal is to post what you guys want.