Thursday, July 16, 2009

Off-Season Update: Johnny Thomas Interview


If the Wolfpack is going to be successful in 2009-2010, there will need to be a few questions answered. One of which being "Who will fill the 3 spot?" With the departure of Brandon Costner, and CJ Williams moving to what looks like a full time SG role, Sidney Lowe will likely look to Johnny Thomas, who's knee injuries kept him sidelined his entire first, and a majority of his second season with the Wolfpack. However, after an off-season of intense rehabbing, he is ready to show Wolfpack Nation just what a healthy Johnny Thomas is capable of. We caught up with Johnny to see exactly what he's been doing this off-season to prepare for the coming season.

WPH: Johnny, could you tell us a little bit about yourself off the court?

JT: "I like drawing and architectural design a lot. I pretty much like to relaxing when I get the chance. I like drawing buildings and stuff like that. I'm going to graduate next summer, a year early, so I'll have 2 years to do other stuff and I probably will get into architecture."

WPH: That's really cool... best of luck with that. Now, let's talk a little about these past few years. I think it's fair to say they've been pretty tough for you with the constant knee injuries and not being able to play. Can you talk about that a little bit?

JT: "Well, it's something that happened at a young age while playing football (Johnny was a QB in high school), so I stopped playing football. I then ended up playing basketball more seriously in the 10th grade, and I got into AAU in the 11th grade. That's when I met Freddy Johnson and I got to know him, and I liked Greensboro Day, so I decided to go and play there. While there my knee was fine, and I wasn't having any trouble with it. Then when I got here I was playing pick-up September 1st in 2007, and I tweaked my knee and it ended up being messed up pretty bad. I had to have surgery to remove a piece that was chipped off and that put me out for a year. It was aggravating, not being able to help the team, but I got used to being patient. It's taught me a lot though. It showed me when to rest an injury and how that is important."

WPH: So you didn't start playing basketball seriously until you were in 10th grade?

JT: "Yeah, I just messed around a lot when I was younger but I just never really thought I'd do anything with it. Then when I got hurt I started to take it more seriously. When I was 14 I played on my brothers team , which was a 19 year old team, and I did really good so that's when people started noticing me."

WPH: So explain your situation with your knee coming into this season. Is it healed, are you good to go?

JT: "Yeah I feel like last year was me getting out there and getting a feel of it. It was hard at first last year going full speed because I had sat out a full season. It was just that my body had to relearn how to do things I used to do, and as that happened I started to feel good and now that that's happened I think I'm going to be great this year and I'm really looking forward to playing."

WPH: It's really looking like, and even Coach mentioned, you and Scott Wood are going to be putting in major minutes this season. How do you feel about stepping into to that type of big time role?

JT: "That definitely what I'm going for. Every player wants to play big minutes, but I'm trying to make a huge impact...I'm trying to start. "

WPH: Is there anything you have to do after practices or games as far as icing your knees or rehabbing?

JT: "There's really nothing I HAVE to do, but it is something that I do. I'm just am so used to it and I do it more as a precaution."

WPH: So with a healthy knee, I'm guessing we can expect a lot more highlight reel dunks. Speaking of dunking, what is your vertical and what is the first time you ever dunked?

JT: "I have a 44 inch vertical right now. I could always dunk...I mean, in middle school I could dunk tennis balls and volleyballs, but my sophomore year I got a lot more confidence and was just trying to dunking everything.

WPH: Do you see a difference in this years team than last years team?

JT: Yeah, oh yeah. This years team is always in the weight room, always a working out. There's always someone in the gym or lifting weights. Previous years we'd prepare but it was more just mandatory stuff, but now everyone is taking their own time and developing their individual game. We're all trying to play pick-up together so we can be close as a team before we take the floor for a game. Like, I was talking to Dennis and saying, us being upperclassmen this is our team and we dictate what goes on. It's up to us to set an example and show the younger guys how its' supposed to be.

WPH: What are some of the main things you are working on this off-season?

JT: "Well, I'm pretty athletic so that in itself puts me ahead of a lot of people. Just my ball handling and shooting. People will be saying "Oh he's not a wing" and all that, so I've been working hard on my ball handling and shooting so when I play next year, I see it as, every shot your teammate gets you is a shot you need to make so I work hard in the off season to give myself the best possible chance to make that shot. I'm just taking this time now to focus on what will happen in the games and try to recreate it in practice so I'll be ready."

WPH: Can you talk about some drills you're doing?

JT: Yeah, I do a lot of up and down dribbling, fast motion dribbling. Sprint, crossover, behind the back, at full speed so my handles will be sharper and faster than they were. I've noticed that my handles have gotten a lot better. My shot too. I used to elevate too high or not lift my elbow, but now I have it down to perfection and have it down to the same motion...it feels a lot better to me.

WPH: A lot of people don't know this, but aside from putting in a lot of time on the court, you also put in a great deal of time into your school work. In fact, you were named 2009 Academic All-ACC. How can you balance both and still be successful?

JT: "For me it wasn't as hard. I came from a school that had good academics, so coming in I kind of over exaggerated the fact, and I didn't want to underestimate it. Then I got hurt and it motivated me to really step up and work harder in school. To me, school isn't really hard if you put the work in and stay on top of things. "

WPH: Lastly, what are your goals for this years team?

JT: "Basically I want to win every game. We are a young team and a lot of people see us as the underdogs, but I think we'll be able to compete with Carolina, we'll be able to compete with Duke, or any team in the ACC. I really have no fears about who we play or where we play them. We're more focused as a unit. It's not just a focus on one guy, and we're all together now. I think there's going to be more chemistry."

comments

16 Responses to "Off-Season Update: Johnny Thomas Interview"
  1. Alum02 said...
    July 16, 2009 at 3:14 PM

    Seems alot of these interviews talk about "not focusing on one guy", team concept, and working outside of the mandatory stuff. Good to hear.

  2. one00proof said...
    July 16, 2009 at 3:26 PM

    imo, the player that needs to step up the most with Zo Brown not coming. He's got the right mindset and the work ethic, but it pretty much depends how far his body is willing to let him push it.

  3. Pack Leader said...
    July 16, 2009 at 3:34 PM

    Great interview!!! Johnny is a real down to earth guy it seems with his head screwed on right! I love how he is working on the parts of his game he has had the most criticsim. He more than showed flashes last year of being able to avg +10pts a game, but to me its the intangables he brings to our club that is priceless.

    Coach has said multiple times that he knows exactly what he will get out of Johnny, 110% flat out hustle on every single play. If he even has a remotly decent jump shot from 15 ft then he could be extremly dangerous with a 44 INCH VERTICLE!!!!
    Also loved to see him say "To me, school isn't really hard if you put the work in and stay on top of things" Any chance Lorenzo Brown can room with him next year when he arrives at state????????

  4. Anonymous said...
    July 16, 2009 at 3:39 PM

    If Johnny graduates next year and can move to an academic scholarship it would open one more spot giving us 2 available spots. Harrow, Brown, Cothron, and Parker, what a class. Add that to the current squad with another years experience. Wow!!!

    I really feel this years squad is going to suprise people. Defense and rebounding will be strong. Scoring is going be the question mark.

  5. KarNCSU said...
    July 16, 2009 at 3:54 PM

    If he does graduate next summer its going to be interesting to see if we keep him for another year since he wll have graduated etc. I know he can take grad level classes etc but I guess its a decision Lowe and Thomas will have to make just like Lowe and Costner talked about it this past season. But Thomas is my darkhorse this year, I really think ppl are overlooking him and if his knee is fine he will bring some much needed athleticism to the team and he can get those tough rebounds. If he works hard I can see his game emulating a lesser version of Gerald Hendersons

  6. TruthBKnown Returns said...
    July 16, 2009 at 4:11 PM

    "WPH: Do you see a difference in this years team than last years team?

    JT: Yeah, oh yeah. This years team is always in the weight room, always a working out. There's always someone in the gym or lifting weights. Previous years we'd prepare but it was more just mandatory stuff, but now everyone is taking their own time and developing their individual game. We're all trying to play pick-up together so we can be close as a team before we take the floor for a game. Like, I was talking to Dennis and saying, us being upperclassmen this is our team and we dictate what goes on. It's up to us to set an example and show the younger guys how its' supposed to be."

    I like this kid, and this team.

    I also noticed his last paragraph where he talked about competing with Duke and Carolina. I hope that is just confidence, and not Gavin Grant type of OVERconfidence. At least he said "compete". Hopefully he's right.

  7. Pack Leader said...
    July 16, 2009 at 4:20 PM

    Karl if im not mistaken most times it is up to the player if he wants to return post graduation if he has years eligable. I would highly doubt sid wouldnt allow him to return esp if Johnny takes classes in Arch Technology and continues his education. I think we all can agree we expect good things from him this year so it wouldnt make sence to expect such high things one year then the following year inform him there will not be a spot for him. Now i could very easily see him taking an academic scholarship over his athletic scholarship for the good of the team but dont expect Johnny to quit after this year.

  8. Slick said...
    July 16, 2009 at 4:54 PM

    I really like JT, he is a class act.

    44 in. vertical = skywalker jr.

  9. Dof87 said...
    July 16, 2009 at 5:12 PM

    Thanks for the great interview WPH. I little long though (chuckle).

    How many days till BBall? I can't wait.

  10. 74Doug said...
    July 16, 2009 at 6:28 PM

    Great interview, great attitude. I think what Sid sees in recruits will become obvious to everyone this year.

  11. Jose said...
    July 16, 2009 at 6:53 PM

    Got a chance to meet JT in person once and came away thinking that he is extremely engaging and confident (not coming off cocky one bit). He's is going to be the real deal or he's going to go down swinging trying.

    The instant impact he will make to the starting line up is on what some bball geeks call "50-50" balls. Some of them are the traditional loose ball sprint and dive on them rough and tumble but there are a lot more "loose ball's" to be had in a game.

    Just one example are long rebounds that your bigs have block out positions but the ball bounces off to space where one of their guards get to it. A guy with energy, desire, hustle and a 44" leap can do some damage on snagging these type of rebounds.

    My picture perfect image for this up coming season is the last regular season or ACC tourney win that the guys know they're heading to the NCAA's and they are congratulating each other for all the hard work, sweat and tears.

    Most of all I would love to see Coach Lowe and JT shake hands and congratulate each other because he represents the mental toughness so well that Coach wants from everyone.

    Thanks WPH and JT for a great interview.

  12. Anonymous said...
    July 16, 2009 at 6:56 PM

    Man this interview really gets me excited about basketball season! I have always like JT, I specifically remember some awesome rebounds and tough putbacks he got last year. With improved handles and stroke, watch out! Keep up the good work man, and know that Wolfpack Nation has your back!

    -FranklinSt Wolf
    (yes i live downtown CH, i hate it...)

  13. NJ Pack said...
    July 16, 2009 at 8:23 PM

    I wish the best for JT, but just to play devil's advocate, is his knee ever going to be 100%, or even 90%? It sounds like he had a serious procedure with cadaver tissue in his knee. It would bring a tear to my eye if he can average 8 pts and 10 rebounds a game.

  14. Anonymous said...
    July 16, 2009 at 10:35 PM

    Johnny Thomas is what's up! Has anybody seen the videos of him dunking on Youtube, right AFTER he got injured in high school. This guy is the real deal as far as athletic ability. 44 in. VERT?!!! Seriously?! I been tellin' people all along that if he was healthy he could YAM ON SOME TARHOLES! Now is the time. There's nothing I would enjoy more than to see JT dunk over John Henson and then let out a Wolfpack HOWL! Wishful thinking?... Maybe, but let's remember- "At N.C. State dreams become reality." ~Jim Valvano

  15. Anonymous said...
    July 17, 2009 at 8:40 AM

    Excellent interview and great news for JT and the Wolfpack team. I can't wait to see JT play with a healthy knee this year.

  16. primacyone said...
    July 17, 2009 at 9:27 AM

    I tell you what. Sid has recruited some high quality kids. There is not a single one that I have not been impressed with. Just all around high qualtiy.

 

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