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Thomas fits in at Marshall

Sep. 28, 2013 @ 11:28 PM

HUNTINGTON — Marshall University men’s basketball picked up Chris Thomas as a late recruit in the summer without an official visit and with no promises.

One of his first stops was a Sunday night team meeting before classes began the next morning.

“He walks off with six or seven guys and they go eat dinner,” Marshall head coach Tom Herrion said.

That showed Herrion that Thomas would fit right in.

Before the team meeting, Thomas said he was in Cam Henderson Center for five hours working to get his game right.

Thomas is a 6-foot-5 sophomore guard from Denver, Colo. — yes, he’s a big Denver Broncos fan — with a big reputation.

He was rated as the No. 9 junior college recruit in the nation by JucoRecruiting.com coming out of Chipola College in Florida, and once was considered to be a national Top 10 high school player by Rivals.com.

But, his career hit a roadblock at Chipola because of some legal trouble. Charges of driving without a license and operating an unregistered vehicle, followed by a positive test for marijuana, resulted in his dismissal from the team.

Thomas signed with Manhattan College, but that didn’t work out.

Marshall coaches contacted Thomas and told him they were most interested in his future — not his past.

“He (Herrion) talked to me real good,” Thomas said. “He said, ‘I’m going to be hard on you,’ and he has. I do want my image to be different. I was young. I was caught up in school and girls.

“I’m ready to be a man with the situation.”

The layoff from his Chipola dismissal in March until the start of preseason practice Friday didn’t seem to affect Thomas much. He completed a 2-mile conditioning run Tuesday at Ritter Park in less than 12 minutes and 20 seconds, Herrion said.

He’s gained 12 pounds up to 193 since arriving in town and was moving freely at Friday’s practice.

“I expect him to be a guy that should contribute right away,” Herrion said.

“He’s a terrific talent. He’s explosive. Scary fast in the open court. He’s a shot maker, not a pure shooter. And, he’s got a great feel for the game.”

Thomas described himself as a play maker — someone who can make any plays that are needed.

The mental part of the game will come.

“He’s going to struggle a little bit now because we’re throwing everything at him,” Herrion said. “The next couple weeks he’s going to be in overload.

Thomas said he loves Huntington because “it’s very chilled.”

He also likes living with his roommate, Marshall sophomore guard Tamron Manning, who is showing him the way.

“He’s been here before me so he knows a lot more than me,” Thomas said. .”It’s fun talking to him.”

Thomas said he shares something important with his teammates – they’re all in it to win games.

It’s a team game, he said. If he has to guard 6-9 forward Elijah Pittman in a practice, that’s OK. If he’s asked to guard 6-1 point guard Kareem Canty, so be it.

“I try to make everybody better,” he said.

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