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Posted Oct 26, 2007
Many LSU men’s hoops fans turned their eyes north last year to Chicago to track the progress of former Tiger power forward Tyrus Thomas during his rookie season with the NBA’s Bulls.
Thomas hit the hardwood for 72 of the Bulls’ 82 regular-season games and averaged just over five points and nearly four boards in his debut campaign in the Association. This all came after he was the fourth overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft by Portland, who summarily traded his draft rights to Chicago in a draft-night deal.
Tyrus’ NBA debut was only months after he completed his lone season at
, in which he was named SEC Freshman of the Year and also the circuit’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year. Thomas was also named named MVP of the 2006 Atlanta Regional in the NCAA Tournament.
Even though his stay time as a Tiger was short, the Baton Rouge native still has an affinity for LSU.
“It was fun,” he said. “It was good to be there and I was home, so it was a good place to be.”
Like many who have played or currently play for him, head coach John Brady had a huge impact on Thomas, both on and off the court.
“He’s a good guy,” Thomas said. “He’s competitive and wants players to work hard, get better and win.”
Making the jump from the SEC to the rigors of an 82-game season in the NBA can be a big adjustment for any player. So, like most NBA rookies, Thomas had his struggles last season but feels the entire experience will pay dividends for him in the near future. “I learned a lot,” he said about his rookie season. “It helped me prepare better for this season. Hopefully, I can continue to build on it this season, next season and for many years to come.”
In the offseason, he returned to his hometown for a while, where he worked out and played in some pickup games with current and former LSU players.
“I was there for a little bit,” he said. “We played some pickup games with each other and worked out together.”
Another of his former LSU teammates, Glen “Big Baby” Davis is a rookie this year with Boston along with more established fellow former Tigers like
(Detroit), Shaquille O’Neal (Miami) and
(Memphis). Thomas is glad to be part of this ever-growing fraternity of LSU products in the Association.
“I think we’re all doing pretty well,” he said. “It’s a blessing to be in the situation to represent your university. I think that’s definitely a good thing.”
Playing 82 times along with countless practices, meetings and all the associated travel makes for a busy schedule for NBA players but Thomas still finds time to keep up with LSU men’s hoops.
“I don’t really know how they will do (this year),” he said. “I know
well. I hope they do well and I will definitely keep up with them this year. We’ll see how they do and I will watch them whenever I can.”
With his rookie season now a thing of the past, many think that this could be a breakout year for Thomas. After all, he is now only 21 and many NBA players make the biggest jump between their freshman and sophomore seasons. If that’s true in his case, Tyrus could be in for a huge year in the Windy City.
“I hope so,” he said. “I think that I’ve worked pretty hard this summer. I will do my best and we’ll see what happens.”
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