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Thomas the Tank’ keeps reloading, firing up shots

Cody Cousino / Asst. multimedia editor

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Joining a new team with established veterans and the top high school recruit in the nation, Ohio State freshman forward Deshaun Thomas wasn’t about to stop doing what he loves to do the most: shoot the basketball.

“It’s funny ’cause everybody always talks about it,” Thomas said, smiling. “I like to shoot; I like to score. I mean that’s what everybody likes to do.”

Thomas said he developed his passion for scoring at a young age. During his childhood in Fort Wayne, Ind., he and his basketball were inseparable.

“I always had a ball in my hand when I was young. I even took it to school,” Thomas said. “I used to shoot it a lot at the parks and the YMCA.”

Thomas’ eagerness to shoot the ball carried over into his time at Bishop Luers High School, where he scored the third-most points in Indiana high school basketball history.

“In high school I had the green light since freshman year, so that became comfortable to me. So if I’m open, I’m going to try to shoot it,” Thomas said. “I took a lot of shots in high school. I’d pull up to the volleyball line, halfcourt.”

Despite joining a roster at OSU that includes three of the top 32 scorers in school history — seniors Jon Diebler and David Lighty and junior William Buford — as well as heralded freshman Jared Sullinger, Thomas never became gun-shy. His new teammates took notice of the forward’s quick trigger, assessing him a nickname to poke fun at his willingness to shoot the ball anywhere, anytime.

Students’ take on 2010-2011 Ohio State men’s basketball team by RMSchanz

“Thomas the Tank,” Thomas said. “You can’t stop the tank from shooting.”

Joking aside, Buford said that Thomas’ scorer’s mentality has been a welcome addition to this year’s team.

“He’s a scorer — nobody has a problem when he shoots,” Buford said. “When he shoots, we all think it’s going in anyways, so, you know, we have no problem with it.”

Thomas’ quick trigger paid off for the top-ranked Buckeyes in their Jan. 22 win against Illinois. Coming off the bench, Thomas hit two 3-pointers, fueling a 14-0 OSU run that helped the Buckeyes overcome an eight-point second-half deficit.

“I got in the Illinois game, fired up two shots. I wasn’t even stretched or nothing like that,” Thomas said. “At that moment, I was just feeling it.”

Despite seeing sporadic playing time thus far at OSU — Thomas has played as many as 29 minutes in a game and as few as seven — he has been efficient for the Buckeyes on the court, connecting on more than 50 percent of his shots and averaging 9.2 points per game.

Thomas said although he has a reputation of being a scorer, his priority for the Buckeyes is on the defensive end of the floor, especially because he knows what the result of an opponent’s missed shot could be.

“Play defense first,” Thomas said. “I know defense gets you transition buckets.”

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