Derrick Thomas played only one year of varsity basketball for coach Paul DeStefano at St. John's College High School in Washington, D.C., but the versatile guard from New York City made his presence felt for the Cadets.
A strong 6-foot-4, 195-pound shooting guard, Thomas averaged 15 points, six rebounds and four assists per game as a senior for St. John's. The Cadets lacked height in their frontcourt and frequently played a three-guard attack. Thomas actually played both guard positions and small forward on occasion for DeStefano.
St. John's plays in the ultra-competitive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference with teams like DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.), Gonzaga (D.C.), Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.), Bishop O'Connell (D.C.), Carroll (D.C.), Paul VI Catholic (D.C.) and Good Counsel (Olney, Md.).
"[Thomas] made All-WCAC and was selected to play in the main game at the Capital Classic All-Star Game," DeStefano said. "He came in here as a new player as a senior and he really played great. He adjusted to our system and he played very well against the best competition our league had to offer. Derrick had some huge games -- games of 28, 27, 25 points. He is a very tough, talented, big-time player."
Thomas transferred to St. John's midway through his junior season, in January 2008, from a prep school in Massachusetts. Under WCAC transfer rules, he could not play varsity basketball for the Cadets until the 2008-09 season. Consequently, he played on the St. John's junior varsity in 2008 after arriving from Massachusetts.
"I really wish I had Derrick for more than one year here at St. John's. He was a great kid to have around and be in the program and the school. He is a really talented player who was really conscious of fitting in and playing as part of the team," DeStefano said. "We were lucky that he played with our team a lot last summer. He played AAU ball with the New England Players, but he didn't go to a lot of the big AAU events; he stuck around D.C. this summer and played with our guys and got used to the team and the players."
Thomas verbally committed to Drexel University in early February after receiving recruiting interest from a range of Division I colleges.
James Quinn covers high school basketball for MDVarsity.com.