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Thomas turning pro

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Less than a week after the Ohio State men's basketball team's season came to an end with a loss to Wichita State in the Elite Eight, Buckeyes forward Deshaun Thomas announced that he will forego his senior season at OSU, in order to enter the 2013 NBA Draft.

"My three years at Ohio State have been the best years of my life," Thomas said in a statement released by the school.  "I have grown tremendously as an individual and as a basketball player. I intend to return to finish my degree, but I believe that now is the best opportunity to pursue my dream and begin my career as a professional basketball player. I will always be a Buckeye and am blessed to be a part of the Ohio State University family." 

A McDonald's High School All-American in 2010, Thomas came to Columbus with high expectations as Indiana's third-leading scorer in high school history. In his freshman season, Thomas averaged 7.5 points per game off of the bench for the Buckeyes, who compiled a 34-3 and saw their season come to an end in the Sweet 16.

It was Thomas' sophomore season that saw him truly breakout while being named a second-team All-Big Ten selection. Averaging 15.9 points per game throughout the season, he exploded in the NCAA Tournament, posting 19.2 points per game en route to the Buckeyes' appearance in the Final Four.

After opting to return to school for his junior season, Thomas was named a preseason All-American and did his best to live up to the hype. A 2013 first-team All-Big Ten selection, Thomas led the conference in scoring with 19.8 points per game, before being one of 10 players named to the John R. Wooden All-American team.

Ohio State Thad Matta said that what stood out to him most about Thomas' time in Columbus was his maturation both on and off the court.

"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 and I am proud to have been able to coach him."

The Fort Wayne, Ind. native leaves Ohio State as the program's No. 9 all-time leading scorer with 1,630 points. He is one of just 25 players in school history to score at least 1,000 points and post 500 rebounds over the course of his career.

Thomas is the eighth player in Matta's nine seasons at OSU to declare early for the draft. Unlike the first seven players who left under Matta, Thomas is projected to be a second round pick in the upcoming draft, due to questions about his defense and athleticism.

Ohio State said that Thomas intends on finishing the school's spring semester, while splitting time between Columbus and Indianapolis to prepare for the draft.