Cody Cousino / Multimedia editor
Maybe the awards and honors are coming in too fast for Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas. OSU coach Thad Matta said he wasn’t even aware of the player’s most recent one.
After receiving national recognition as a first-team all-American by The Sporting News and Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook in prior weeks, Thomas was named a first-team all-American honoree by the Associated Press Monday on the eve of the No. 4-ranked Buckeyes first preseason exhibition against Walsh University.
Members of the media first informed Matta of Thomas’ latest honor during a Monday evening press conference.
Matta said the AP preseason honor was “great notoriety” for his OSU program and Thomas.
With the awards in hand, though, it’s time for Thomas to produce, Matta said.
“Starting in another week-and-a-half, it’s completely on,” Matta said. “You have to go out every single night and prove and produce. (The award) is probably predicated on how he finished the season last year, which was phenomenal. I hope he continues where he left off in terms of playing.”
Thomas, a native of Fort Wayne, Ind., is one of three returning starters from a Buckeyes’ squad that went 31-8 during the 2011-12 season, which ended in New Orleans at the Final Four.
On the way to a national semifinal loss to Kansas, Thomas amassed 96 points in the Buckeyes’ five games in the NCAA tournament.
Over the course of 39 games, Thomas averaged nearly 16 points per game and 5.4 rebounds for OSU.
OSU junior guard Lenzelle Smith, Jr. said Thomas’ latest award is a testament to his work ethic.
“He’s just working on his game, trying to get better, you know, doing whatever it takes to get him to the next level. Every day in practice he’s doing whatever it takes,” Smith Jr., said. “As far as Deshaun goes, you know, he’s been doing everything that it takes to get to the next step and be successful and I’m proud of him. I’m happy for him.”
The AP’s list of first-team all-America honorees included two other Big Ten Conferences stars, Indiana sophomore center Cody Zeller, who received 64 of 65 votes, narrowly missing a unanimous selection, and Michigan sophomore guard Trey Burke. Burke received 16 votes to tie for fifth-place on the first-team.
Rounding out the list is Murray State senior guard Isaiah Canaan, Creighton junior forward Doug McDermott and Lehigh senior guard C.J. McCollum.
OSU’s exhibition game against Walsh tips Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center. The Buckeyes will open the regular season Nov. 9 against Marquette in the Carrier Classic in Charleston, S.C., on the deck of the USS Yorktown.