It’s rare that a high-school recruit de-commits and then re-commits to that same school. And it’s even rarer that a player is publicly set to transfer from a school and ultimately returns just two weeks later.
But that’s what has happened with shooting guard Jake Thomas.
The redshirt junior will return to Marquette after the team announced he would transfer two weeks ago. Thomas will be given one of the two remaining scholarships the Golden Eagles have available after three players left the program in the last two weeks.
“After thinking it over and talking with my family about the situation, along with the help of Buzz, I have decided to finish my career at Marquette,” Thomas said in a press release. “It has been a great two years and I am looking forward to what the future holds.”
Thomas, who has one year of eligibility remaining, was not going to receive a scholarship for the 2013-14 season, something he knew when he transferred to Marquette two seasons ago. Because Marquette had an extra scholarship in each of his two seasons, Thomas was given a scholarship his redshirt season and again as a junior last year. In 27 games he averaged 1.8 points and shot 27.8 percent from beyond the arc in 9.0 minutes per game.
With a five-man recruiting class set to arrive on campus this summer, however, Thomas knew he would revert to walk-on status. Since he was set to graduate this May, Thomas was eligible to transfer to another school as a graduate student, so long as that graduate program was not offered at Marquette.
CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman, who first reported the transfer, said South Alabama, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Illinois-Chicago had all inquired about the sharpshooter’s services.
But circumstances changed when three other players–Juan Anderson and Jamal Ferguston transferred; Vander Blue opted early for the NBA–chose to leave Marquette, leaving two scholarships available.
At the time of Thomas’ transfer, he said in a press release that the scholarship situation had no bearing on his decision to leave Marquette.
“Buzz had explained to me when I first got here that a scholarship for my third year was unlikely,” he said. “I just want to have my last year of college basketball be at a program where I can play significant minutes and contribute to a team.”
But with two shooting guards–Blue and Ferguson–out of the picture, Marquette all of a sudden has a need for depth at shooting guard, a position that looked to be one of the deepest on the team two short weeks ago.
“We are excited Jake has decided to return for his last year of eligibility,” coach Buzz Williams said in a press release. “Our conversations leading up to his release and throughout the last few weeks have been very transparent. He has always been welcome in our program and represents everything that our program is built on.”
Thomas presumably will be third on the depth chart, behind starter Todd Mayo and freshman Jajuan Johnson. Last year Thomas played behind Blue, Trent Lockett and, the second semester, Mayo.
After Mayo returned on Dec. 22 against LSU, Thomas played in 13 of Marquette’s last 25 games and averaged 3.5 minutes. He scored seven points in that span, but neither Mayo nor Johnson are expected to average the 33 minutes per game Blue did last year, meaning Thomas could be in line for more action.
Thomas received plenty of interest, and considered Ball State, Loyola, Northern Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue, South Alabama, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Wisconsin-Milwaukee, but deemed his playing time would be adequate at Marquette and that the chance to play for a high-major contender was worth more than an extended role elsewhere.
It’s unknown whether Thomas will pursue and apply for graduate school or continue in undergrad studies, but regardless Marquette has its 12th scholarship locked up. According to a report from the Journal-Sentinel’s Michael Hunt, Buzz Williams would consider adding a freshman with the final scholarship, or an immediate transfer eligible to play right away.