Wisconsin added a banger to its 2015 recruiting class Tuesday night when 3-star power forward Charlie Thomas committed to the Badgers. Thomas confirmed the decision on his Twitter account this evening.
With this commitment, the Badgers broke into the uncharted waters near its new conference mate Maryland, as Thomas hails from River Hill High School in Clarksville, Md. The Washington Post named Thomas an All-Metro selection in the talent-rich DMV region after he averaged 21.6 points per game as a junior.
Video footage of Thomas is hard to come by, but you can see how he moves in a few short clips here and here. He is not the kind of athlete that jumps off the screen at you, but should be able to develop a well-rounded game consistent with Bo Ryan's approach. Wisconsin's staff was obviously attracted to his length, potential and versatility at 6'7 and 225 pounds. After reading up on Thomas as much as I could last month, I think this summary still rings true:
Thomas will need to work on becoming more aggressive offensively, but he is a smart player. Currently Thomas is viewed as more of a lunch pail, utility-type at the next level despite averaging over 20 ppg as a junior, and may need time to adjust to the next level of competition. However, the kid has good genes -- his father, Charles Thomas III, played collegiately for Wake Forest and New Mexico.
Trying to find a Badger comparison to Thomas isn't as tough as people make it out to be -- don't ignore the obvious comparison right under our noses in Vitto Brown. Or you could go with a Andy Kowske-Ray Nixon-Mike Bruesewitz combination. You know, the usual. Honestly, until we see more, I also think of Keaton Nankivil without the perfect shooting stroke. Thomas is a work in progress, but the potential is there.
Thomas did his due diligence by taking his scheduled to official visits to DePaul (where a pair of his AAU teammates with DC Premier have committed) and Rutgers the past two weekends. Clearly in his mind, however, nothing in the works compared to what UW (and host Nigel Hayes) showed him when it offered a scholarship during his official visit on Sept. 19. Vanderbilt and George Mason were the other top schools on his offer list.
Bringing Thomas aboard ensures that the frontcourt remains fully stocked after this season regardless of how the rest of the class plays out (ie: whether Diamond Stone signs). It sounds like Thomas will be able to bring a rebounding and shot blocking presence, in addition to being a potential "glue guy" in the future.
Have you been paying attention to the theme in Wisconsin's commitments over the past few years? How things escalated quickly with Thomas is not a surprise. We have seen this style of recruitment play out in the past with repeatedly, including with the two other verbal commits in this class, Brevin Pritzl and Alex Illikainen. The Badgers recruit really well with the under-the-radar or up-and-coming players who have been keeping an eye on a Wisconsin offer. Just something to keep in mind when it comes to filling out the class.
Though UW technically still has three more open scholarships for 2015, it won't use them all. Having struck out in a down year for point guards, only two outstanding offers remain and they are both to centers. I have accepted that Josh Sharma has probably moved on to either Stanford or Boston College, so Thomas sort of fills that developmental big slot that Sharma would have occupied. Wisconsin is entrenched in a battle with Connecticut and Maryland for Stone that will come down to the wire. Stone recently visited Oklahoma State and there are rumblings that Duke is no longer a serious threat.
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