Thomas returns for junior year
By ANDREW SOUKUP
Chris Thomas' 42-day flirtation with the NBA ended when no single NBA team could convince him he would be selected in the first round.
So Monday, he decided to return to Notre Dame for his junior season.
"The right decision -- and the most comfortable decision -- for me was to come back," Thomas said. "When I finally made that decision, a big weight was lifted off my shoulders and I'm happy."
Thomas first declared he would enter the NBA Draft in early May, but didn't sign with an agent to preserve his amateur status. When he initially announced his decision, he said he would return if he wasn't among the top-20 picks, an estimate he later expanded to include the entire first round.
But after working out with nine NBA teams, Thomas never heard from an NBA team that he would definitely be a first-round selection come June 26.
"I just wasn't comfortable with it being up in the air," Thomas said. "There wasn't a team that guaranteed me, but at the same time, they never said I would go in the second round."
Thomas had spent the previous two months working out with a private trainer at International Management Group Academies in Florida, living alone in an apartment near the complex. Although he worked out individually with nine teams, he skipped the Chicago pre-draft camp. In a draft loaded with point guard prospects, NBA scouts advised him to stay in school.
"He went back and forth a lot," Irish coach Mike Brey said. "I always thought there was a very good chance he would want to come back."
Thomas would have been the first sophomore in school history to leave early. If he flirts with the NBA next year, he'll have to stay in the draft if he declares. NBA rules prevent a prospect from declaring for the draft and then pulling out more than once.
"Every team would like to see better decision-making on my part," Thomas said, a second-team all-conference pick who led the Big East in both assists and turnovers last season. "I feel like, for the most part, I'm good in all areas. I'm not great in one and I need work in all of them."
Now Thomas begins summer school Tuesday, where he is enrolled to take accounting and philosophy. Brey had pushed for Thomas to make a decision on his NBA future so he could attend the first summer school classes, even though he had until June 19 to official withdraw his name.
"He has a chance to be a top 15 guy next year," Brey said. "He's going to be a 10-year pro -- it's just at the right time."
All Sports Stories for Friday, July 11, 2003