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September 21, 2014

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Breaking down Quintrell Thomas’s impending decision (UPDATED)

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AP PHOTO

Kansas’ Quintrell Thomas (11) gets past UMKC’s James Humphrey (1) and Latreze Mushatt (4) to put up a shot during the first half on Nov. 16, 2008, in Lawrence, Kan. Thomas announced on April 9 that he will transfer from KU.

Quintrell Thomas will not be choosing his next school until Memorial Day Weekend, now. This was reported a few hours ago on zagsblog.com.

“He just finished finals and is coming home this weekend,” Thomas's AAU coach Derrick Bobbitt told Adam Zagoria. “He just wants to take his time making this decision. He knows he has to get it right this time around.”

So lets break down these potential landing spots. I've worked the phone and waited by the phone. But it's the summertime. Nothing better to do. It's all good.

Anyways, yesterday I decided to start thinking for him. What are the pros and cons of each place? As you know by now, the Jersey native is expected to decide between UNLV, Siena and St. Joe's.

While still waiting for the 6-foot-8 Kansas transfer to make up his mind, lets take a look ...

St. Joseph's -- Philadelphia, Pa.

Well, if Quintrell truly wants to get closer to home, he's not gonna get much closer than Philly. It's an 8-foot hook shot from Jersey.

From a basketball standpoint, it's not like he's transferring to hoops oblivion. The A-10 is roughly even with the Mountain West in terms league quality. It's actually probably a little bit ahead. Dayton, Xavier and Temple regularly make noise in the tournament, as do the Hawks, who have been there 5 times in 14 seasons under coach Phil Martelli.

St. Joe's is no joke. The Hawks were in the Elite Eight in 2004, and regularly contend for spots in the Big Dance. If he's looking for a quality program that's close to home, he's not going to do much better. Plus, his 6-foot-8 frame (which I've heard is a little closer to the 6-6 or 6-7 mark) would hold up well in the conference.

A look at Martelli's current roster, however, shows that he'd maybe have some work cut out for him in terms of grabbing playing time. The Hawks currently have three forwards who were freshmen this past season that stand at least 6-foot-6 (Temi Adebayo, Bryant Irwin and A.J. Rogers), along with a 6-foot-7 sophomore forward (Idris Hilliard) and 6-11 sophomore center (Todd O'Brien).

O'Brien has three years of eligibility starting next season after transferring from Bucknell, while Hilliard averaged 9.2 points and 5.5 rebounds last season.

Then there's that Hawk mascot that has to flap its wings the entire game. Good grief. How does anyone top that?

Siena -- Loudonville, N.Y.

Until about two years ago, most people may have said 'who?'

But the Saints are a legitimate mid-major threat now, hence their ability to attract major-level transfers such as Thomas.

Fran McCaffery has this program rolling in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference that's much more entertaining than you'd think. He's won back-to-back league tournament titles.

Siena's been to the NCAA Tournament each of the last two seasons, and on top of that, advanced to the second round both times with eye-opening wins -- over 4-seed Vanderbilt in 2008 and 9-seed Ohio State in 2009. The win this March ought to have a gold star tacked to it, since the NCAA yet again appeared to cater to one of its big earners -- The Ohio State University, excuse me -- and kept them in their home state for the opening rounds in Dayton. Basically an hour away by car.

Siena loses its top scoring threat next season in guard Kenny Hasbrouck, but Thomas could form quite the duo in two years with current sophomore Ryan Rossiter, who's come up huge in March each year he's been a Saint. He could also gain plenty of experience going up for a year in practice against senior-to-be Edwin Ubiles, who is a legitimate NBA prospect as a versatile forward.

UNLV -- Las Vegas, Nev.

If Thomas comes to UNLV, then the Rebels could have a rotation in two seasons which includes transfers from Kansas, Memphis (Tre'Von Willis), UCLA (Chace Stanback) and Kentucky (Derrick Jasper). In the last four years, there are 5 Final Four appearances and a national title between those four programs.

It's one thing to load up on transfers. It's another to take them from high-level programs -- guys with high basketball IQs and pedigree. The jury is still out on Jasper and Stanback, who become eligible next season. But expectations are high. And it's already been seen what Lon Kruger can do with transfers, based on the successful season Tre'Von Willis just completed, despite battling multiple injuries.

Thomas would obviously fit into the front court rotation and have a golden opportunity to compete for playing time in two years.

For those UNLV fans looking for someone familiar to compare Thomas to, Wyoming's Tyson Johnson might be a good guy to start with, and not just because they're both natives of the New York area.

Johnson was highly productive for the Cowboys, despite standing only around 6-foot-7 and not having the most chiseled body. He still averaged 13.1 points and 7.5 rebounds as a senior.

Right now, Thomas fits that mold, and in public pick-up games last summer in Lawrence, he more than held his own against future NBA lottery pick teammate Cole Aldrich.

UNLV obviously wants to use at least one of its two open scholarships on a big man, but how much would Thomas help this year as nothing more than a practice player? On the other hand, if Matt Shaw returns from ACL surgery to play like a true post guy -- which he displayed in practice late last season -- and if someone can emerge between Darris Santee, Brice Massamba or Carlos Lopez, immediacy is not an issue.

The final verdict?

Pardon me for straddling the three-sided fence, but this is far from an easy decision. A decision that I'm glad is not mine.

Godspeed, Quintrell.

But Bobbitt said it best: Gotta get it right this time.

Everyone's got a rumor ...

I typically go by the rule of thumb that you can believe, oh, about 15 percent of the things you hear on a message board.

That said, here's a thread started today on a Kansas message board regarding Thomas's destination.

Again, take it with a grain of salt, but it still makes for good blog fodder, in my opinion.

And yet again, nothing is official on this.

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