Originally written on Project Spurs  |  Last updated 11/13/14
Success stories come in every shape and size in the NBA, but they don’t always come often. While some kids have dreams of becoming the next LeBron, Kevin or Kobe while hitting the asphalt throughout childhood, the challenge of making it to the world’s largest basketball stage can be quite daunting and humbling. For some, getting a chance to make a living by playing the sport they love professionally, even overseas or in the D-League could prove to be the peak, while another handful will get a chance at 10-day contracts. One thing was clear when Duke alumnus Lance Thomas was drafted by the Austin Toros prior to the 2010-11 season, his days in the D-League were numbered. Never mind the fact that he was co-captain of a national championship-winning Duke team, Thomas’ talent was obvious immediately. After covering the Toros closely over two seasons, I was often surprised when Thomas was not called up to NBA teams. Knowing the talent they had in their backyard, the San Antonio Spurs brought in Thomas for several summer workouts. It was only a matter of time and having the right people in the right places that would provide Thomas his NBA opportunity. When Dell Demps , formerly a Spurs and Toros front office executive, was hired as the New Orleans Hornets general manager, the path was paved. “I don’t know if that was the exact reason why I got signed, but having someone that knew who I was as a player didn’t hurt,” Thomas said recently after the Spurs hosted the Hornets. Thomas was invited to Hornets training camp along with Toros teammate “Squeaky Johnson” prior to the 2011-12 NBA season and made the final roster heading into the season. However, Thomas’ first NBA experience would be cut short when he was waived on December 31, 2011 and returned to the Toros. But the Hornets wouldn’t keep the forward in the Capitol City for too long, calling him back up a little over a month later. and Thomas made the most of it. “When you have the opportunity to make a team you have to really go for it,” Thomas said. On March 9, 2012, Thomas rattled off a career-high 18 points, and later that month he got his first start against a team he knew all too well...the Spurs. Thomas finished with eight points, four rebounds and two blocked shots in the game. Now it seems Thomas has found a home in the NBA, and as he says it, it’s due in large part to his experience in the D-League. “It's been really good for me,” Thomas said on his experience with the Toros. “We played against top notch talent every night and had a close relationship with the Spurs and ran all of the same sets.” Aside from working closely with the Spurs, Thomas turned heads even outside of San Antonio due to his work ethic, attitude and by leading by example. “(Scouts) say he catches their eye right away with the way he’s committed to both ends of the floor and the way he works,” former Toros coach and current Jazz assistant Brad Jones said while coaching the Toros. While Thomas only played two minutes against the Spurs with the return of Anthony Davis, it’s clear regardless of his playing time that he feels every win and loss equally, part of what made him a leader with Duke and the Toros. “We allowed them to get to their spots and needed to do a better job defending their shooters,” Thomas said. “I wish we had done more to win the game.” As for the Spurs, who are now first in the Western Conference and on an eight-game winning streak. “They're a really good team and very well coached.” After spending countless summers participating in workouts to give himself the best chance of making it into the NBA, he spent his first NBA offseason defending the likes of LeBron and Kevin Durant as he was named a member of the USA Select Team. So while Thomas’ success story is still being written, you’d be hard-pressed to call it anything else at this point.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Hernandez allegedly shot friend after fight over strip club bill

Report: Andre Johnson requests to be traded or released

James Harden suspended for groin kick to LeBron James

Mark Cuban will play the President in 'Sharknado 3'

Five most exciting one-bid conference tournaments

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Redskins interested in Ndamukong Suh

Report: Darrelle Revis likely to hit free agent market

Le'Veon Bell could face up to a four-game suspension

Report: Giants place franchise tag on Jason Pierre-Paul

Vikings GM: Team has spoken with Adrian Peterson

Yu Darvish on notion he quit on Rangers: ‘That’s BS‘

Who received franchise tags at the deadline and who did not

WATCH: Whiteside, Len ejected after getting into wrestling match

WATCH: Texas-Baylor fight leads to seven ejections

Nik Stauskas wears Michigan State gear after lost bet

Bret Bielema takes away player's car after DUI

NHL player traded after daughter's heartbreaking letter

Curt Schilling unloads on Twitter trolls again

Pirates Corey Hart cut his foot getting into a whirlpool

Steve Spurrier joins Twitter, jabs Clemson

Michael Jordan makes his first Forbes billionaire list

Nick Young rips ESPN anchor over Iggy Azalea insult

Sad LeBron literally looks in mirror after loss to Rockets

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Five potential landing spots for Andre Johnson

Texas-Baylor fight leads to 7 ejections

Mark Cuban will be Prez in 'Sharknado 3'

Report: Redskins interested in Suh

Report: Revis likely to hit free agency

Steve Spurrier joins Twitter

MJ makes Forbes billionaire list

Nick Young fires back at Robert Flores

Sad LeBron literally looks in mirror after loss to Rockets

MLS 2015 season preview

Report: Broncos to franchise Demaryius

James Harden kicks LeBron in groin

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.