According to reports, St. John's has won the recruiting battle for Keith Thomas a 6'8" forward from Westchester Community College.
Keith Thomas (6'8/F/2014) of Westchester CC has announced that he has committed to St. John's— Brad Winton (@JucoRecruiting) May 5, 2014
Keith Thomas is a 23-year old forward originally from Yorktown prep and now Westchester County Community College. Thomas was the Region XV Player of the Year. In high school at Yorktown (NY) - before he left the game for a short time - he was noted as "incredibly skilled" and "the best passing big man in the area."
St. John's newest recruit averaged 15 points and 16 rebounds in his junior college season, shooting 65% from the field and banding hard on the glass. According to his available stats from NJCAA.org (which may be missing a game?), he was a monster on the glass.
Not all rebounds are created the same - playing against shorter opponents or lesser talents can boost rebounding numbers - but picking up a season high of 33 rebounds in a game - and a four point win by Westchester, at that - takes talent. He averaged 10 defensive rebounds and seven offensive rebounds per game. Thomas posted 13 games of 10 defensive rebounds or more.
In five games, Thomas did not reach double-digit rebounding numbers in total. Westchester County won all but one of the five games, losing to Monroe College.
Thomas isn't necessarily a big scorer - he averaged almost as many made field goals as he did offensive rebounds per game - and that might be a boost for St. John's. While having a low-post creator might be a nice counter to the driving and shooting of D`Angelo Harrison and Rysheed Jordan, the Johnnies did miss a lot of shots. Having a player who knows that his points are created by crashing the glass adds a dimension the Red Storm have sorely lacked in recent years, a capable put-back artist to disrupt an opponent.
St. John's has also struggled at times to keep opponents off of the offensive glass. If Thomas can maintain around the same level of tenacity and effectiveness, he should be an effective role player. For comparison, God`sGift Achiuwa averaged 12 rebounds per game on a lower level of junior college level; some of his rebounding, as expected, did not translate, but Achiuwa still had effective stretches when playing limited minutes.
With Chris Obekpa returning, Adonis Delarosa in the fold and a penchant for Steve Lavin to play smaller lineups (think: Sir`Dominic Pointer as a power forward), Thomas may have found a good fit in St. John's to highlight his skills.
Will Thomas' presence be enough to push St. John's over the edge to the NCAA Tournament?