HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Whatever mysteries the Marshall men's basketball team had at shooting guard could be solved, now that one of the nation's top junior college players is on his way to Huntington.
Daily Mail sources confirmed a Monday afternoon CBS Sports report that Chipola (Fla.) Junior College guard Chris Thomas, considered a five-star prospect, has signed a financial aid agreement with Marshall and plans to arrive on campus closer to when classes begin in the fall.
Thomas, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Denver, Colo., was at one point considered one of the top 10 recruits in the country by Rivals.com. ESPN.com's scouting report said he had the frame and skill of a potential NBA scoring guard. He averaged 9.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 26 games last season at Chipola. Thomas will have three years of eligibility at Marshall.
The Herd was hunting for another shooting guard following several offseason departures. Three-time all-Conference USA guard DeAndre Kane and fellow starter D.D. Scarver - both shooting guards, though Kane spent most of last season running the point - left the team in April. Marshall did sign junior college guard Justin Edmonds, who is coming back from a knee injury suffered 15 games into last season at Owens (Ohio) Community College.
Thomas joins a guard lineup that includes Edmonds and Tamron Manning and DeVince Boykins, who averaged 11 and 10.5 minutes last year, respectively and combined to score about two points per game.
He's also part of an extreme roster makeover that includes Edmonds, fellow junior college signees Shawn Smith and Cheikh Sane, Ohio transfer and former George Washington High standout TyQuane Goard and Kareem Canty and Ryan Taylor, both of whom sat out last season as academic non-qualifiers.
Thomas had verbally committed to Xavier and signed a letter of intent to play at Manhattan while at Chipola. In 2012, he was charged with driving without a valid drivers license and operating an unregistered vehicle and was put on conditional release in a pre-trial intervention program, according to the Jackson County Floridian. While in that program, he tested positive for marijuana. He was arrested for that violation, the newspaper reported, and missed the state junior college tournament.
That arrest apparently had Manhattan reconsidering bringing in Thomas. Manhattan Coach Steve Masiello told website NYCBuckets.com in June that he was reevaluating adding Thomas to the team.
The Thundering Herd finished last season at 13-19, its lowest win total since Ron Jirsa went 13-19 in his final season of 2006-07. Marshall returns one starter from last year, leading scorer Elijah Pittman. The other six of its top seven scorers from 2012-13 have departed through either graduation or transfer.
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.r...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.