Kenny Thomas came to New Mexico as the most
heralded recruit since the days of Michael Cooper. He was expected to dominate the paint
and carry the Lobos to the promised land. New Mexico did manage to win a first round game
in the NCAA tournament in all four of Thomas's years (which they had not done since '74),
but he failed to take them to a great stage nationally. Thomas had some great games and
averaged both double figure points and rebounds for the Lobos, but he never cracked the 20
ppg mark. Many people account that to lackadaisical play, which will certainly hurt his
draft stock. Also hurting Thomas's draft stock is that in eight NCAA tournament games, he
only played well in one (vs. Missouri in 1999) and fouled out of five of them.
his attitude was often questioned, he pulled down several boards and was fairly effective
in the paint. Some people said he didn't care in the UConn game (witness his 1 point), but
he still pulled down 11 rebounds, which might suggest otherwise. In addition, he was
suffering from a groin pull that held him out of the WAC tournament. In addition to being
an excellent rebounder, Thomas was a great passer for a player playing his position and
has a solid shooting range (37% on three-pointers in his SR year).
At 6-8 (or 6-7, depending on where you look), Thomas will not be able to play center in
the NBA, as he did in college. Instead, he will have to move to one of the two forward
positions. His shooting and passing suggest that small forward might be a reasonable
position, but he is probably not fast enough to compete with other small forwards. He
seems to be a little shorter and not quite as strong as most of the power forwards already
in the NBA, but he was a great rebounder and his post-passing is definitely a strong
point. He probably wouldn't be able to go up against Karl Malone, but who can?
Where Thomas will be drafted mostly depends on what scouts think of his attitude.
Because of his groin pull, he had to turn down the invitation to the Desert Classic. Since
his last game was the 1 point effort against UConn, he may not be looked upon favorably
right now. Still, if a team wants a good rebounder who also has good shooting range and is
an excellent post-passer, Thomas would be a good choice. My thought is that Thomas should
be picked in the middle of the first round.