Shaquille “Shaq” Thomas, a 6-foot-6 junior wing who may be close to committing to Syracuse, is transferring to Montclair High School. Thomas lives in Montclair with Dorothy Thomas, Tim’s mother and Shaq’s grandmother. It was Dorothy who signed Shaq out of Paterson Catholic on Wednesday and returned all his books.
“He hasn’t committed (to Syracuse) yet. He really loves Syracuse and all of that and it’s going to be his own decision, but he is leaving Paterson Catholic. That’s a definite. He’s going to Montclair High School,” said Tim Thomas, the Los Angeles Clippers star who led Paterson Catholic to the New Jersey Tournament of Champions in 1994.
Shaq Thomas, who is transferring to a public school from a non-public, will have to sit out a full year because he is not changing his address, as per new state rules.
Shaq Thomas is not only the nephew of the most accomplished male basketball player ever to emerge from the Silk City, he is the half-brother of Liberty rookie and former Rutgers star Essence Carson, perhaps the best female to come out of Paterson.
Still, Tim Thomas, who said he has no financial relationship with his alma mater, added he wasn’t happy with his nephew’s progression in various aspects of his life and a felt a change would be best. Tim said he wanted Shaq to focus on his studies and the SAT test at Montclair. Tim previously took a younger cousin out of Paterson Catholic also.
“That’s really my main focus with Shaq, getting him on pace where he has to be education-wise and letting the basketball take care of itself,” Tim said.
Last year, Shaq Thomas, a long, athletic wing with an improving jump shot, came off the bench as the Cougars won the Passaic County championship and then fell to Bob Hurley’s St. Anthony team in the Non-Public B state playoffs.
Thomas’ transfer breaks up a quintet of highly talented juniors, four of whom have played together since freshmen year. Thomas played with fellow juniors Fuquan Edwin, Jayon James and Jermaine Peart for two years at PC, and fellow junior Trevor Clemmings later transferred in from Paramus Catholic. All five players hold Division I scholarships. Seton Hall made a combination offer to Edwin, Clemmings and Plainfield junior Isaiah Epps. Thomas has a number of offers as well as interest from defending NCAA champion Kansas.
As far as his college situation, Shaq Thomas attended an Elite Camp at Syracuse in August and ultimately decided he wanted to verbally commit to play for Jim Boeheim.
He called Syracuse associate head coach Mike Hopkins on Tuesday to say he wanted to commit, but Hopkins told Thomas he had to clear it first with Tim and Dorothy Thomas and his coaches.
“Shaq is going to make his own decision,” Tim said. “I told Mike (Hopkins) I wanted Shaquille to at least get another year of getting his core classes together and take the SAT once or twice before. He could commit to whatever school he wants to at the end of the (2009) summer. I want him to concentrate on his schoolwork and taking the SAT at least once or twice so he can go to college. Once he does that he can commit to Syracuse or North Carolina or wherever he wants to go.
“I just don’t want him to rush into making a decision and still he has two more years to get his core classes and take his SAT.”