INDIANAPOLIS – Deshaun Thomas grew up in awe of former Indiana Pacers star Reggie Millers ability to score.
The former Bishop Luers and Ohio State standout tried to put on a Miller-like shooting display Thursday morning in front of about 10 members of the Pacers coaching and front-office staff on the same practice court at Bankers Life Fieldhouse that Miller once roamed.
I grew up watching Reggie – Reggie Miller – and I loved the Pacers. I grew up watching all basketball, even Michael Jordan and I grew up in the Kobe (Bryant) era, and I was a Pacers and a Chicago fan. But I just loved the game, said Thomas, who was part of a six-player pre-draft workout for the Pacers.
Thomas, who is foregoing his senior year, has already worked out for eight teams and there could be nine more auditions before the NBA draft on June 27 in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Projections have him all over the place – CBS Sports Matt Moore and Gary Parrish have him going in the second round, while ESPNs Chad Ford has him potentially not getting picked – but Thomas has no regrets about leaving Ohio State early.
Thomas averaged 19.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists as a junior. He helped the Buckeyes go 29-8 and reach the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament, where they lost to Wichita State.
Id been thinking about it and it was my time after last season to come out, Thomas said. It was my time to take my game to the next level and take my game to the next stage. Theres been no second-guessing.
The workout in front of Pacers officials, who werent available for comment, crystallized some of the problems Thomas is facing. At 6-foot-7, 220 pounds, its unclear what position would best suit him in the NBA. He worked out at shooting guard, small forward and power forward.
He said his preference is small forward.
Because you can go out there, get space off the ball and take the man off the dribble, Thomas said. The (small forward) can score in different ways. Go around a smaller guy or post him up.
Thomas averaged 14.4 points and 4.9 rebounds in 113 games with Ohio State. He was named the 2010 Indiana Mr. Basketball and led Luers to two Class 2A state titles.
Thomas, 21, believes what will set him apart from others before the draft is his work ethic. He has been honing his game in Indianapolis since April and never takes a day off.
You have to keep grinding and stay blessed and have that faith, he said. Great things will happen for you. Some of these guys take days off after a workout. I havent taken a day off yet. Its about the grind and getting ready each day.
He doesnt mind the uncertainty of his future, saying wherever he winds up in the NBA will be just fate calling. Hes also embracing the process of performing for and getting interviewed by teams.
Its fun, he said. There are a lot of kids who wish they were in our shoes. Its a blessing. But its also a challenge because you have to keep working and working at it. You have to have fun with it and enjoy it.
James Southerland of Syracuse, Will Clyburn of Iowa State, Troy Daniels of Virginia Commonwealth, Alex Oriakhi of Missouri and C.J. Leslie of North Carolina State also worked out Thursday.