By Jeff Odom
The wait for former Wesley Chapel High boys basketball player Erik Thomas to make his college commitment is finally over.
Thomas, who put together one of the most memorable seasons in local high school basketball history last winter, officially signed to East Georgia State College in Statesboro, Ga. June 11 after making an official visit.
He also received interest from Saint Leo University, South Alabama, East Tennessee State and Seattle, among others.
“I felt a great emotion of happiness,” Thomas said. “So much stress is relieved and off my shoulders.”
Thomas racked up numerous accolades his senior season, including All-Laker/All-Lutz News Player of the Year honors for his 32.7 points and 16.3 rebounds per game, two of the highest totals in the nation.
He also joined his sister, Sthefany, who played at Clemson University and now professionally for Gimele in Norway, as the only two players in Wesley Chapel history to surpass the 2,000-point total, which he did against school-rival Wiregrass Ranch in February. Thomas was also named the Class 5A player of the year by the Florida Dairy Farmers and to the Florida Athletic Coaches Association all-state list.
On the court, the 6-foot-5 forward helped lead the Wildcats to a 25-5 record and their first district championship in seven years. He also put up career-highs with 46 points against Hudson and 32 points against Ridgewood. Thomas scored 40 or more points in five games this season and finished his senior year with 948 total in 29 games.
“Quite frankly, I’m more impressed with his rebounding than his scoring,” Wesley Chapel coach Doug Greseth told The Laker/Lutz News in December. “You just don’t find that in high school, and we’ve had some injuries, some illnesses, some suspensions, and he’s really filled in, and to get that many rebounds is unbelievable.”
Still, even with his eye-popping statistics, Thomas was unable to garner much Division I interest, because of his size. He said he hopes to play at the top level once he proves himself at EGSC, where the Bobcats were 31-3 last season and reached the quarterfinal round in the National Junior College Athletic Association’s men’s basketball tournament.
“It wasn’t as nerve-racking in my head,” Thomas said. “(EGSC) is going provide everything I need to go on to the next level.”
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