Niagara Gazette

Niagara U.

May 9, 2010

Niagara basketball gets a 'banger'

NIAGARA FALLS — The Niagara men’s basketball team made a big addition to its 2010 recruiting class last week when it received a signed letter of intent from Joe Thomas.

Thomas is a 6-foot-7, 220-pound lefty who describes himself as “a banger down low.” He averaged 13 points and 11 rebounds as a senior, helping Dr. Michael Krop High School advance to the Florida Class 6A semifinals.

“He’s an inside, back-to-the-basket player whose rate of improvement has been astronomical considering he hadn’t played much basketball up until the ninth grade,” Krop coach Marcos “Shakey” Rodriguez said.

“Wide body, long arms, does most of his damage close to the basket. When he fills out, he’ll be about 240, 245 pounds. He’s very athletic, raw, still in the developing stages. Excellent rebounder, has to improve his shooting. He runs the floor, he can guard perimeter players. He loves the game and works hard. I think his best days are ahead of him.”

Mihalich said one of the things he likes best about Thomas is that he played for “one of the best coaches in the country.”

“That’s part of the package,” he said. “When you get Joe Thomas, you’re getting somebody who is really well-coached, somebody who’s a winner.”

Thomas said Niagara didn’t begin recruiting him until after his senior season. He took an official visit to campus in late April, and was hosted by sophomore center Scooter Gillette.

“I feel good joining the Niagara program,” he said. “It seems like a good program where I can develop my skills. It’s a good place, good academically, people are friendly. It seemed like a place I’d want to be.”

Thomas is the fourth high school senior to sign with Niagara this year, joining guards Skylar Jones and Antoine Mason, and forward Shaquille Duncan.

However, Mihalich confirmed over the weekend that Duncan will attend a prep school next season, thus re-opening his college recruitment.

Recruiting analysts touted the 6-7 Philadelphia product as a coup for Niagara when he signed in November, but Duncan had a tumultuous senior year that eventually led to him being dismissed from the team, and in March, Mihalich said that he would likely redshirt in his first year at Niagara.

“We came to a mutual agreement that the best thing for him to do is go to a prep school,” Mihalich said.

Contact reporter Jonah Bronstein at 282-2311, ext. 2258.

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