(image/edit from @iknowjacksports)
There hasn’t been really too much buzz about NC State landing 2022, 3-star PG LJ Thomas, and on the surface, the lack of hype doesn’t seem all that crazy.
Thomas is a local kid, hailing from Carrboro, NC. He really hasn’t made national waves yet, he’s not some insane athlete, or some elite-level shooter (yet), so there really aren’t that many highlight reels out there on him.
The commitment also comes on the heels of Keatts landing 4-star center (2022) Shawn Phillips.
There also wasn’t a huge need at PG for 2022. I mean, you will likely still have Cam Hayes at the helm, and backing him up is likely to be Breon Pass. So, adding another PG isn’t really filling a needed hole for that season, and the fact that it’s a kid that’s only a 3-star makes it even less interesting from the outside.
So why is this article trying to tell me Thomas is someone we shouldn’t ignore?
Bull City Prep’s LJ Thomas to NCSU! pic.twitter.com/qqF7DJM5X4
— I Know Jack Sports (@iknowjacksports) October 6, 2021
Well, first off, Keatts is now entering his 5th year at NC State. He’s not in scramble mode anymore. He’s not rushing to fill roster spots. In fact, Keatts has been great at bringing in high-end transfers, so locking up a 3-star kid this early wouldn’t seem to make much sense.
Well, unless you know something others don’t.
Whether you’ve noticed or not, Keatts has been borderline elite at evaluating talent before it pops off into the national limelight. I mean, you can even go back further to his time at Wilmington. He had guys like CJ Bryce and Davonte Cacok who both ended up being big-time players who big programs simply bypassed (Bryce ended up being a star at State after his transfer).
Once at State he continued to get commitments from big, yet under-the-radar talent.
When he first targeted Manny Bates, he was a 3-star who most felt was a project player. Jericole Hellems, who is now NC State’s go-to scorer was a 3 star. Dereon Seabron was a 3 star, Josh Hall was a 3 star when Keatts offered him (he too skipped to the NBA despite his commitment to NC State), and both Terquavion Smith and Breon Pass were unknowns when Keatts got involved. Both became 4-star players by the end of their high school careers.
The point is, when Keatts jumps early on a kid, it’s usually best to trust his judgment.
However, in this case, it wasn’t just Keatts who saw big-time promise in LJ Thomas. Virginia Tech, Houston, Auburn, Wichita State, Texas A&M, Maryland, and Florida all offered Thomas before the Wolfpack did.
Why were those elite programs vying for a kid who analysts ranked as only a 3 star?
Well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see, but watching Thomas play it’s obvious what they all see. He’s a big-bodied, agile, crafty guard who has a high basketball IQ, a beautiful midrange game, and a budding 3 point shot.
It’s extremely likely by the end of his career LJ will no longer be just a 3-star guard. In fact, there’s a chance he’ll be competing for the top PG in NC.
Take a look.
— Courtside Films (@CourtsideFilms_) August 20, 2021