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June 28, 2013

Thomas headed to San Antonio

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Ohio State holds the nation's longest active streak of having a player selected in the NBA Draft, with at least one Buckeye being chosen in each draft dating back to 2007. OSU's run of producing NBA-quality players was extended on Thursday, when Deshaun Thomas was selected by the San Antonio Spurs in the second round (58th overall) of the 2013 draft.

A first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2013, Thomas forwent his senior season in Columbus to enter this year's draft. The Big Ten's leading scorer last season, Thomas averaged 19.8 points per game, in addition to 5.9 rebounds, and 1.3 assists.

Despite spending just three seasons in Columbus, where he helped the Buckeyes amass a 94-19 record, the Fort Wayne, Ind. native leaves Ohio State as the program's ninth all-time leading scorer with 1,630 points to his credit. He is also one of 25 players in school history to score at least 1,000 points and record 500 rebounds.

Even with the accolades that he garnered during his time with the Buckeyes, some of the appeal of the Bishop Luers product has been tempered by questions regarding what position he'll play at the professional level. At 6-foot-7 and 225 pounds, Thomas primarily played power forward during his college career, but in the NBA he projects as a small forward, which is just fine with the 2013 John R. Wooden All-American selection.

"I prefer the three, cause you can get out there and space the floor, take your man off the dribble," Thomas said following a workout with the Indiana Pacers. "The three can score in different ways. You can score on a big guy, go around him, or if it's a smaller three, post him up. The three is where I want to play."

Ohio State head coach Thad Matta has vouched for Thomas, who he has seen develop since his time as a freshman role player on the Buckeyes' 2010-2011 squad.

"To see Deshaun grow into the man he has become has been amazing," Matta said. "His accomplishments on the floor speak for themselves but I am just as proud of him and what he has done off the floor. We recruited him offering the opportunity to grow as a person and player and that is exactly what happened. I know there is much more in-store for him in the future."

In the Western Conference champion Spurs, Thomas is heading to a team that posted a 58-24 record last season and took the Miami Heat to seven games in the NBA Finals. The former five-star prospect will join fellow forwards Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw, and Matt Bonner on the San Antonio roster. While it remains to be seen exactly where Thomas will fit in on his new team's roster, he said that he doesn't plan on changing the way that he plays the game.

"Everybody knows a guy like me can score and score in different ways, but I'm just looking to put in the effort and have fun," Thomas said. "Some of these guys come out here and do different things. I'm going to keep doing my thing in putting the ball in the hole."

With his selection on Thursday, Thomas becomes the ninth player to be drafted out of Ohio State since Matta took over the program in 2004. Other Matta-coached players to be selected in that timespan include Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., and Daequan Cook (2007), Kosta Koufos (2008), B.J. Mullens (2009), Evan Turner (2010), Jon Diebler (2011), and Jared Sullinger (2012).

As is the case with most second round picks, it is presumed that Thomas will participate with the Spurs in the NBA Summer League, which kicks off in Las Vegas, Nev. on July 12.

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