(Credit: Ohio State Athletics Communications)
Watch Ohio State forward Deshaun Thomas play for all of two minutes and the skills and physical tools are undeniable. At 6-7, 215 pounds, Thomas has the rare ability to glide past a defender in one instant and overpower another in the next. He possesses and inside-outside game, range beyond the three point line and versatility on the defensive end to guard multiple spots.
Last season Thomas averaged 16 points and 5.4 board per game. So far this year he’s averaging 22.5 points and 6.5 caroms through the Buckeyes’ first two contests.
Beyond the numbers, however, Thomas’ game is expanding in a different way – mentally.
“I’ve worked hard on not getting down after missing my first shot or two to begin a game,” Thomas said after yesterday’s win. “Missing my first shot or two used to be a pet peeve of mine… and I’d let it affect me, but I’ve matured and have learned to keep playing hard and stick with it, knowing the shots will fall.”
That ever-improving focus and perseverance was on display yesterday. OSU, with its hands full against a stubborn and well-coached Rhode Island team, clung to a 30-26 lead at intermission. Thomas scored a pedestrian eight points and didn’t connect from long range on two first half attempts.
In the second frame, Thomas maintained focus and asserted his will on both ends. The junior exploded for 17 points on five of nine shooting overall, including a three of four effort from long range. He also got to the line four times, made several clutch hoops to maintain Ohio State’s cushion, and came up with a key steal and bucket down the stretch as OSU escaped.
The end result, an 11 point win for OSU and as fluid a double-double as you’ll see, as Thomas scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the full 40 minutes of action.
He may have not expected to play the entire night without a breather. But Thomas responded after a slow start early and – as figures to be the case on many night this season – was the engine that led OSU to victory.
“I can’t take any games off,” Thomas said. “I have to treat every game the same, play hard all the time and stay positive and do all the things to help this team win. It’s a passion.”
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