Friday, May 22, 2009 | 6:44 p.m.
- UNLV signs Houston forward Buckley (5-19-09)
- AAU Coach: Thomas to decide next weekend (5-14-09)
- Breaking down Quintrell Thomas’s impending decision (5-14-09)
- Quintrell Thomas to decide today? (5-13-09)
- Quintrell Thomas down to two schools? (5-6-09)
- Kansas transfer Thomas set to visit UNLV this weekend (4-28-09)
- Mitchell released from Rebels basketball team (4-27-2009)
Quintrell Thomas may have been still in diapers when coach Jerry Tarkanian had the UNLV hoops program rolling at its peak in the early 1990s, but he knows what winning in this town can do.
And now he'll have the chance to find out first-hand.
After taking his time and visiting a couple of other schools, Thomas made it official late Friday afternoon: The former Kansas forward will be a Rebel next season.
"I just thought about how good we would be once I started playing," Thomas said over the phone. "It's one of the primary entertainment places in the country. We start winning, we could turn Vegas upside down."
Of course, Thomas is referring to the rotation he'll be a part of once he's eligible come the 2010-11 season, per NCAA rules, which will include fellow transfers Chace Stanback, Derrick Jasper and Tre'von Willis, plus a host of others.
Thomas averaged 1.5 points and two rebounds in limited duty for the Jayhawks, who advanced to the Midwest regional semifinals in Indianapolis this past season before bowing out to eventual national runner-up Michigan State.
However, in early April, the St. Patrick (N.J.) High product announced his intent to transfer, mired deep in the Kansas rotation with little chance for an immediate ascent on the horizon. He was stuck behind twins Marcus and Markieff Morris, who de-committed from Memphis and signed late with Kansas and returning All-American candidate Cole Aldrich, who spurned a potential slot in the NBA draft lottery for a junior season in Lawrence. He would also have been fighting for time with incoming freshman Thomas Robinson and Arizona transfer Jeff Withey, who is eligible following the upcoming fall semester.
UNLV's coaching staff was in tight with Thomas when he was a senior at St. Patrick, when the 6-foot-8 forward was ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 149 prospect in the 2008 crop. However, when Bill Self and his staff swooped in, UNLV finished second in the race for his services.
The familiarity with UNLV's staff was a plus not only for Thomas, but with his family, as well.
"My mother loves the situation," Thomas said. "I liked the coaching staff before I made my decision to go to Kansas. It was between them and Kansas at first. Plus (I like) my role once I get there and the opportunity to make it deep in the (NCAA) tournament with the players we have."
It certainly looks on paper as though Thomas will have a chance to help the Rebels deep into March. Stanback, Jasper and Willis will key a squad this season that looks to get back to the tournament after missing the dance last season, stumbling after a 13-2 start to a 21-11 finish and an NIT appearance. UNLV advanced to the field of 65 each of the previous two seasons, winning a combined three games and advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2007.
Thomas made three visits during his second trip through the recruiting carnival. He saw Saint Joseph's in Philadelphia, Pa., the week before coming to Las Vegas, then the following weekend went to see Siena in upstate New York. There were rumors that he was going to check out St. Bonaventure and Iona, too, but those visits never happened.
"I'm happy for him," said Thomas's former NJ Elite AAU coach, Derrick Bobbitt. "It was a lengthy process, he took his time, he wanted to go to a bigger school. He's familiar with the coaching staff and they were his No. 2 choice last year, so it made sense ultimately."
The only current Rebel Thomas said he has much history of any kind with is Stanback, who transferred in last summer from UCLA and will be eligible to play this upcoming season. Thomas said he remembers taking on and defeating Stanback's Fairfax (Calif.) High squad two years ago at the Hall of Fame Classic in Springfield, Mass.
But he'll have a chance now to get to know the guys pretty well, as he'll only be allowed to practice this season. Thomas will then have three years of eligibility remaining when the 2010-11 season commences.
UNLV still has one scholarship open for the 2009-10 season, despite signing Wheatley (Texas) High forward Henry Buckley last week. Buckley will be on scholarship come 2010-11, and will attend prep school -- most likely in North Carolina -- this season.
The smart money is on the Rebels allowing that scholarship to roll over for the 2010 class, rather than bringing another transfer or unsigned senior aboard for this season.