When it comes to recruiting, few things should surprise us at this point. Last month Jarnell Stokes went from high school in Memphis to playing in the post for the Tennessee Volunteers. Chris Thomas (Denver, Colo.) has a story of his own.
The former top 10 prospect in the Class of 2013 withdrew from South Kent and enrolled at Chipola Junior College in Florida. On the surface, it looks like Thomas went from being a high school junior to a junior college prospect. In actuality, Thomas was an older junior who had previously reclassified. Regardless, the move is somewhat interesting from an academic and planning standpoint.
Jake Headrick, Chipola’s head coach, indicated that Thomas would sit out the remainder of this season, but practice with the team and attend classes at the school. Next year he’ll play for Chipola as a junior college freshman.
While the move raises an eyebrow simply because we don’t see high school kids typically go this route, it makes some sense. Thomas can work to obtain his GED and then take advantage of playing at one institution for a few seasons. He’s bounced around so much that trying to decipher his transcript was going to be difficult.
This way -- should he complete his time at Chipola and earn his degree -- he’ll be more desirable as a recruit at the highest level. In talking with high-level assistant coaches last week, it was clear that Thomas would have to turn his game and circumstances around in order to be recruited by many of the elite programs. This move to junior college gives him a chance to re-establish his identity off the court, solve his academic troubles and string together a few seasons of playing for one program.
It’s unorthodox, but the move could very well signal the final chance for Thomas to recover as a student. His value as a player and raw talent is not in question.