Minnesota will have playing time open up in its frontcourt after this season with the loss of three senior forwards. Palm Beach State's Kevin Thomas is an uncommitted sophomore who could potentially help in 2013-14.
Kevin Thomas, sophomore forward at Palm Beach State
For the Minnesota Golden Gophers, the loss of three seniors from their front court at the end of this season will create substantial minutes of immediate playing time that will need to be filled. While the roster will include some promising youth, an impact JUCO or high school power forward ready to contribute from day one would have a nice opportunity and help fill a need at the ‘U’.
The Palm Beach State (Fla.) Panthers are off to a 17-0 start and #6 ranking in the NJCAA Division I national poll. Head coach Butch Estes has a strong, team-oriented group of players led by former NCAA Division I player Jonathan Holton and former Texas Longhorn commit Kevin Thomas.
Highlighting the season thus far was a 68-63 victory earlier this month over Louisville-bound guard Chris Jones and Northwest Florida State College. As has been the norm this year for Palm Beach State, they had a significant advantage on the glass over their opponent, posting a 41% offensive rebounding percentage (OR%) and limiting Northwest Florida State to an OR% of just 18%.
Thomas, a 6’9” sophomore forward, has played a key role in the Panthers’ dominance on the boards and is averaging approximately 4 offensive and 9 total rebounds in 20 minutes per game. I recently sat in on a Panthers’ practice at their home court in Lake Worth, Fla., which was the first time I had seen Kevin in person since his days with Grassroots Canada AAU.
Minnesota has shown interest in Thomas in the past and although there has not been much recruiting activity with him recently, the talented Canadian may be a solid fit considering the Gophers’ current seniors. The regular National Letter of Intent signing period for the 2013-14 season begins April 17, 2013.
Rodney Williams, Trevor Mbakwe and Andre Ingram are each in their final year at the ‘U’ and Minnesota will need other players to step up if the team is going to continue their strength in the areas of offensive rebounding and shot blocking.
Thomas doesn’t have a huge frame, but the strength is there and his ability to rebound, block shots and help others on defense are enough that he’s deserving of strong consideration.
During my visit to campus, I was reminded of the versatility and potential that I saw two years ago. Thomas is long and moves well; he’s able to score inside (finishing with either hand) and the lefty also has a sweet stroke away from the basket. With his ability to score, rebound and defend, as well the continuing improvement of his basketball and leadership skills under Coach Estes, Kevin may prove to be quite a valuable addition to a DI program next season.
The video below is from 2010, but gives the viewer a brief look into some his abilities. Physically, Thomas today may be just a bit taller and his upper body size and strength has improved.
Other Palm Beach State Player Notes:
Jonathan Holton - 6’9” forward transferred in from Rhode Island where he averaged 10 & 8 as a freshman; originally from Miami area; committed to play next season for Richard Pitino and Florida International – very nice addition for FIU; double-double machine at PBS.
Darrick Wood – The highly talented guard and former St. John’s commit was at PBS this semester, but did not play. Per discussion with Coach Estes, Wood has now left PBS and the school has given him his release.
Carrington Ward – 6’2” freshman guard from Philadelphia put up big scoring numbers in high school and is scoring well at PBS. Through the 14 games, Ward was averaging 14 points with an effective field goal percentage of 65% (including 18/36 3FG).
Demetric Austin – 6’7” freshman from the DC area has a strong, big build that can move people in the paint. Nice combo of size and skill.
For more information on Palm Beach State’s basketball program, you can visit their website HERE.