Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Elijah Thomas, Jawun Evans Talking About Playing Together
PHILADELPHIA — Team Texas Elite teammates Elijah Thomas and Jawun Evans continue to talk about potentially joining forces in college.
“It’s on our mind, that would be a good thing for us to be playing together since AAU started, so it would probably be a good thing,” the 6-foot Evans told SNY.tv after he and Thomas helped take down a Diamond Stone-led team at the Reebok Classic Breakout.
Evans is the No. 5 point guard in the Class of 2015, according to 247Sports composite rankings, while Thomas is the No. 11 power forward in the class.
Evans said he’s now considering Illinois, USC, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Oklahoma State and Texas. (He said Cincinnati is out after landing a point guard in Justin Jenifer.)
Thomas, who is coming back from missing several months with a torn ligament injury in his finger, said the schools recruiting him the hardest are SMU, Illinois, UNLV, Oklahoma State, Memphis, Texas, USC and Texas A&M. He plans to announce Jan. 15.
UConn is officially on Thomas’s list but he said he hadn’t heard much from them in recent months.
That leaves Illinois, Texas, UNLV, USC and Oklahoma State as the schools involved for both.
Still, the 6-foot-9 Thomas from Lancaster (TX) said the local schools are recruiting him the hardest.
“Nobody wants to see you leave out of the state or the city, so I guess I’d have to say SMU,” said Thomas, who went for 3 points and 8 boards, in a 66-53 win over Stone’s team.
The SMU campus is less than five minutes from Thomas’ home, but is not recruiting Evans.
“My whole family can come watch any game,” he said. “It’s not even five minutes away from the house, it’s right up the street.”
Thomas has a strong bond with SMU coach Larry Brown.
“He’s a really good coach just like the rest of them, he just happens to be a Hall of Famer, so that just separates him from a lot of coaches’ resumes,” Thomas said. “And he teaches really well.”
Illinois is recruiting both players hard, and Thomas said he plans to take an official there.
“They’re in there really good,” Thomas said. “Their fans are outrageously supportive, so you like that a lot. It’s always good seeing fans talk to you and what not.”
He added: “Coach [John] Groce and coach Jamall [Walker] are recruiting me pretty hard, me and Jawun.”
Said Evans: “Me and the coaches at Illinois have a great relationship. We talk almost every chance we can get about life and stuff that’s going on in the world.”
USC is another option and coach Andy Enfield was in the stands.
“He teaches his players how to shoot very well,” Thomas said. “It’s free-spirited there. You can go there and be the man, you can play, do whatever you gotta do, so that’s also good, too.”
Said Evans: “It’s a great school. The coaches are great, too. They have a young coaching staff.”
As for Oklahoma State, Thomas said he will take his first official visit there in September.
“Oklahoma State was the third school to offer me a scholarship,” he said. “I’ve been down there twice, I know a lot of the players. I’m familiar with both football and basketball. It’s a pretty beautiful city.”
Evans also likes Oklahoma State, which had assistant Butch Pierre at the game.
“They’re a point guard school,” he said. “They’re showing me what they know how to do with point guards.”
UNLV is also involved for both players, and assistant Ryan Miller was in the stands.
“I like their coaching staff,” Thomas said. “Las Vegas is awesome. They’re going to have a pretty good recruiting class in my grade.”
Thomas plans to take all five visits “before I decide where I’m going, but I sign in November.”
Evans likes Clemson, too, even though they’re not on Thomas’s list.
“They’ve been recruiting me since the ninth grade,” he said. “They’ve been there from the start before anybody else game.”
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