It took a few months past signing day, but one of Tampa Bay's top basketball talents is headed north.
Wesley Chapel basketball star Erik Thomas signed with East Georgia State on Tuesday afternoon, Thomas said.
“I honestly didn’t expect it to take this long…” Thomas said. “I’m trying to use this as a learning experience for me to get better as a player, get my body right so I can be ready for the D-I level.”
Thomas compiled one of the most prolific seasons in Tampa Bay history this winter. Thomas earned North Suncoast player of the year honors by ranking among the nation’s leader in points (33 per game) and rebounds (16 per game).
He joined his older sister, Sthefany, as one of two players in Wildcats history to score 2,000 career points – a milestone Thomas passed in a win over Wiregrass Ranch. He was also the Florida Dairy Farmers' Class 5A player of the year, an all-state selection by the Florida Athletic Coaches Association, and a first-team all-Suncoast pick from the Times.
Thomas’ marquee performances include a 47-point performance against Hudson and a 32-rebound showing against Ridgewood. He recorded double-doubles in 27 of his team’s 29 games, took the Wildcats to their first district title in seven seasons and scored at least 21 points in every contest.
Despite his high production, his 6-foot-5 frame kept him from landing bigger college offers. He was also recruited by Seattle, Saint Leo, East Tennessee State and Coffeyville (Kan.) University.
Thomas made the decision to sign with the Swainsboro-based junior college after visiting campus this week because he liked the school's proximity to home, its coaches and its track record of getting graduating players into Division I colleges. The Bobcats finished 31-3 last season and reached the quarterfinals of the National Junior College Athletic Association’s tournament.
Thomas said he plans to study sports management and hopes to move on to an NCAA D-I program.