Deshaun Thomas left Fort Wayne in the summer of 2010 with dreams of playing in the NBA.
The alarm is now going off in the Ohio State junior's head and it's time to see if that dream can be achieved.
Thomas announced on Friday that he would forgo his senior season with the Buckeyes and put his name into the pool of players for the 2013 NBA Draft.
“I believe that now is the best opportunity to pursue my dream and begin my career as a professional basketball player,” Thomas said in a release.
His journey to this point has not been as easily followed as the former Bishop Luers High School standout had thought initially. After finishing his prep career as the IHSAA's third-leading scorer in its history, Thomas envisioned his collegiate career would simply be a continuation of that success.
The 6-foot-7 forward never started a game during his freshman season and averaged just over 14 minutes per night (and 7.5 points per game). Thomas quickly realized that the Big Ten was a far cry from Class 2A basketball in Indiana.
Thomas spent the summer between his freshman and sophomore seasons transforming his body physically and continuing to develop as discipline on the court with skill development.
“To see Deshaun grow into the man he has become has been amazing,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “His accomplishments on the floor speak for themselves but I am just as proud of him and what he has done off the floor.”
Thomas improved dramatically from a strength and conditioning standpoint, and though long known for his lack of attention to shot selection and defensive discipline, he paid great attention to playing within the Buckeyes' system.
Matta took notice and Thomas' time on the floor increased to 39 starts and over 31 minutes per game as a sophomore.
“We recruited him offering the opportunity to grow as a person and player and that is exactly what happened,” Matta said.
A year ago, Thomas gave great consideration to turning pro, but decided to spend another year in Columbus. His work paid dividends, as he built on the highly-successful sophomore year with an even better junior campaign.
Thomas finishes his time at Ohio State as the program's ninth-best scorer (1,630 points) and he led the Big Ten Conference in scoring this past season with 19.8 points per game average. His total of 733 points last season is third most in Ohio State history.
"My three years at Ohio State have been the best years of my life,” Thomas said. “I have grown tremendously as an individual and as a basketball player. I intend to return to finish my degree, but I will always be a Buckeye and am blessed to be a part of the Ohio State University family."
Over the last three years, Thomas helped lead the Buckeyes to 94 victories, three NCAA tournament appearances, three NCAA “Sweet 16s,” a pair of Elite Eights and to the 2012 Final Four in New Orleans.
The Buckeyes also won Big Ten regular-season titles in 2011 and 2012 and earned a pair of Big Ten tournament titles in 2011 and 2013.
By most reports, Thomas is projected as a late first round or early second round prospect for June's draft. Thomas plans to finish the spring semester while splitting time between Columbus and Indianapolis, where he began training on Thursday, for the NBA Draft.
“I know there is much more in-store for him in the future,” Matta said. “I am proud to have been able to coach him.”
Deshaun Thomas career highlights
* 62-Career NCAA tournament rebounds, 4th all-time
* 72-Made 3s, No. 10 all-time, season (2012-13)
* 83.4-FT pct. (.834/141-169), No. 6 all-time, season (2012-13)
* 94 career wins
* 143-Career made 3s, No. 8 all-time
* 205-Ohio State career NCAA tournament points, 2nd all-time
* 260-Thomas made FGs, No. 8 all-time, season (2012-13)
* 584-Thomas FGA, No. 2 all-time, season (2012-13)
* 733-Thomas season pts., No. 3 all-time, season (2012-13)
* 1,630-Career points for Deshaun Thomas, No. 9 all-time
2012-13 Deshaun Thomas highlights
* 2013 John R. Wooden Award All-America
* 2013 Associated Press Third Team All-America
* 2013 NCAA West Regional All-Tournament Team
* 2013 Big Ten All-Tournament Team
* 2013 Sporting News Second Team All-America
* 2013 USBWA All-District V Team
* 2013 First Team All-Big Ten, coaches/media
* 2013 Oscar Robertson Trophy finalist
* 2013 Naismith Award Midseason Top 30
* 2013 Oscar Robertson Trophy Midseason Watch List
* 2012-13 Big Ten Player of the Week (Nov. 19, Jan. 14)
* Hall of Fame Tipoff All-Tournament Team (MVP)
* 2012-13 Wooden Award Preseason Top 50
* 2012-13 Naismith Award Preseason Top 50
* 2012-13 Preseason All-America