Thomas “relieved” as recruitment nears end

Basketball recruit Elijah Thomas committed to Illinois on Tuesday in a ceremony at Lancaster High School in Dallas.

When Elijah Thomas announces his college decision Tuesday afternoon, it will mark the end of a wild recruiting process for the star forward out of Texas.

Recruiting never ends for college coaches and programs, but for many aspiring Division I basketball players like Thomas, it’s an experience they will only have once in their lives. And while Thomas has enjoyed the constant interaction and adoration from fans throughout his recruitment, it will come as a huge relief to the 6-foot-9 big man once his decision is made and announced.

For all of the fun recruiting can be, there is an immense amount of scrutiny that is heaped upon the life decisions of teenagers. Whispers and rumors can be twisted and construed to fit the agendas of fans and the media, and that has been Thomas’ biggest annoyance during his big-time college basketball recruiting experience.

“(My least favorite thing) is when people put words in your mouth or say something you didn’t say,” Thomas said in a text message.

So while Thomas’ decision will put an end to the speculation and the process, it’s a decision that he says he isn’t sure of just yet. With a 1:30 p.m. announcement looming Tuesday, Thomas claimed Sunday that he hadn’t yet made up his mind between Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, SMU, LSU and Illinois. Whatever the final decision might be, Thomas says he’s sure that his mind will be made up for good by Tuesday morning.

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Thomas may well have a good idea of where he’s headed and is just trying to heighten the suspense for Tuesday. Or, he could honestly be torn between the five schools, several of which have made compelling cases to lure him to their campuses.

Oklahoma State already has a high-powered group in the 2015 recruiting class, including Jawun Evans of Dallas, star point guard and Thomas’ friend. The Cowboys also have had moderate success on the court as of late to go along with state-of-the-art athletic facilities on campus.

Texas A&M recently scored a commitment from another of Thomas’ friends, 6-foot-2 shooting guard Admon Gilder. Though the Aggies have struggled recently and play second fiddle to the A&M football team, they also have a strong 2015 recruiting class that may be enticing to Thomas.

And of course, Thomas has raved about Illinois and twice named the Illini the leader during his recruitment. He’s praised the fans, the campus and Illini head coach John Groce for their efforts. He seemed to be having an awesome time during his official visit last month. He’s got an obsessive following of Illinois fans on social media that would only grow stronger with a commitment to the Illini. Thomas also considers himself to be friends with the current Illini players, which would allow for a soft landing at a school that is far away from his Dallas-area home.

The school that Thomas ultimately chooses will land one of the top 30 players in the 2015 class, according to He has a tremendous personality that matches his large skill set and frame, and he has the potential to be the centerpiece of any of the programs on his list.

On Tuesday, the Elijah Thomas experience will end for four schools, but begin in earnest for another.

Alex is a junior in AHS. He can be reached at [email protected] and @aroux94.