"He just has unbelievable potential", says Stoneridge director Mike Mahoney, about Ibrahima Thomas
. "Like Hamady, he's only been playing basketball for about 4 or 5 years. He's just scratching the surface". Mahoney says that Thomas, now a legit 7 feet, doesn't prefer to play like a typical big man: "He's a much better perimeter player than a back-to-the basket kind of player. He likes to come off screens. He has big guard skills – he can bring the ball up court and pass".
Lest anyone think that Thomas is wasting his time (and his considerable height) by playing out on the perimeter, Mahoney states: "Last year against Philadelphia Lutheran he was 8 for 9 from the field; against St Thomas More he hit 3 threes. He can shoot it".
Indeed, considering his size, his style of play, and how well he runs the floor – Mahoney adds that Thomas is extremely quick and fluid – there is one name that comes to mind when thinking of a prototype, and Mahoney didn't hesitate to mention it: "He plays a lot like, and reminds you, of Kevin Garnett", he said.
Thomas is just one of the many high-level Div. 1 talents that comprise the roster at Stoneridge, the most well-known name this year probably being Mamadou Diarra. Last year's team, in addition to sending
Rutgers, sent Djibril Thiam to
Baylor, and Mahoney's son Shane, to Lamar, among others. Mahoney also added that the influx of talent to the
California school continues: attending Stoneridge now are rising junior Angelo Johnson, Charles Boozer, (Carlos' younger brother), Mychel Thompson (son of Mychal Thompson, former first pick in the 1978 NBA draft), and the latest product from what has become sort of an NBA family, James Dunleavy.
Rutgers fans should be thrilled to know that although there is stiff competition for Thomas's services – he already has had in-house visits from
USC, Ball State,
Auburn, and Baylor, to go with 10 scholarship offers - the Knights are indeed a major player in his recruitment. Mahoney said the fact that Rutgers plays in the Big East and "is a program on the rise", as he put it, is a big factor – in addition to the fact that Thomas - since their days together in Senegal - is very good friends with N'diaye.
Thomas however has remained somewhat coy regarding his recruitment, and says that for now, he has no favorite. As for the possibility of being reunited with Hamady in college, Thomas states, "It's a great idea, our pairing can produce". He adds that he has a "very good relationship with coaches Fred Hill and Jim Carr", and stated quite simply "Yes" when asked if Rutgers is a possible future destination.
When asked what he feels are the strengths of his game, Thomas said "My post move, open shots, and my length". He said his strength and his quickness are areas that he would like to improve on. He added that he would like to study telecommunications in college. Finally, with a remark that might send the Rutgers coaches over to the university's dining halls to check on the international repertoire of the cooks and chefs, he said – when asked what else he may want to tell Rutgers fans: "Tell them to get some African food if they want to see me perform at the highest level".
This past spring, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights were able to score a major recruiting coup by signing The Stoneridge School's 6'11 Hamady N'diaye. The Senegal native, Fred Hill's first recruit as the Knights head coach, is easily the most heralded big man to commit to Rutgers in years. Will the Scarlet Knights once again tap into the talent-rich California school and lure Hamady's former teammate?