Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Attrition Files: Dustin Thomas

After a disappointing season, and with a number of players filling similar roles, there was a shared assumption across BuffNation that someone would be leaving the program early.  That assumption was confirmed when CU accepted two commitments for the upcoming recruiting class, with only one scholarship seemingly to offer.  The only question at that point was 'who will it be?'  The answer is a painful one, as it was announced that forward Dustin Thomas was the domino to fall, with the young Texan deciding to transfer out of the program after just two seasons in Boulder. An unexpected shot to the gut.
But, but... two years of DT is too few! From: the Texarkana Gazette
It would be a stretch to say Dustin was my favorite play this past year, but he was certainly in the top tier.  I was drawn to his effort, versatility, and aggressiveness; some qualities that were sorely lacking amongst his teammates.  Heading into next winter, I would've been predicting big things for the Texarkana product.  It really hurts to see him exit.

The average fan may not have appreciated his contributions, but DT was a hard worker and a constant contributor.  Whenever he came on the court, it seemed as if his energy was contagious.  15-ish minutes per game and 4/2 averages may not sound like much, but he was one of the few reserves that actually appeared to progress this year, and was the most consistent performer from the true sophomore group (which isn't really saying much...).  Believe me, Dustin was not pushed out; there would've continued to be a place for him at CU, had he wanted to stay.
Tireless, fearless, Thomas endeared himself to the faithful. From: the BDC
As far as I can tell, the choice to leave came down to playing time and position.  Coach Boyle said as much when Thomas' decision was announced: "I think he wants to play a little bit more on the perimeter than we were willing to play him."  With Colorado, Dustin was becoming, more and more, a 'stretch-four.' The Buffs were playing him in the paint, and having him guard other power forwards.  With a varied skill-set and a decent handle, it's easy to understand that DT would've preferred more of a small forward/wing role.

In that vein, I agree with Dustin's decision.  In a frontcourt dominated by the likes of Josh Scott, Xavier Johnson, and Wes Gordon, playing time would continue to be an issue for at least another year, besides the fact that he always looked to be out of position at the '4,' anyways. He'd pick up too many fouls trying to grasp defensive rhythm, and, much like former Buff Austin Dufault, seemed to play his best when situation took him out of the role set for him.  Maybe, given a new team and a new system, he'll find the minutes and role that he's looking for.
Whoever ends up getting Dustin will be in for a treat.  From: the CU Independent.
Per twitter, he's already visited Central Michigan, and may be well on his way to picking his new home. Regardless of where he ends up, I'll always think of him as a Buff, and remain a fan.  His best basketball is still in front of him, and I can't wait to see it.

Thank you, Dustin! I would've preferred a few more years of your tenacity in Black and Gold, but sometimes you have to get yours. Good luck in the rest of your collegiate career!


Best Remembered for - 

High energy, blue collar performances.  He took a lot of grief for his continuing foul trouble (over six called per 40 minutes played for his career), but most of those were the result of errors of commission, rather than error of omission.  The kid hustled and tried every minute he was on the court.

Best Aspect of his game - 

Versatility.  He can take guys off dribble (his spin move in traffic is a growing force), attack the basket, shoot (although his shot was always a bit streaky), guard multiple positions, and rebound.  Like a Swiss Army Knife, DT can be whatever you want him to be.  CU wanted him to be a power forward, which may not have been the best use of his skills, but he tried his hardest to fill that role.

Best game as a Buff -  

1/4/15 vs USCStill without Josh Scott, the Buffs needed a little extra from the reserve forwards, and Dustin obliged with a majestic 17/2/2/3 performance.  He posted an offensive rating above 190 for the game, making all three of his three point attempts, and staying away from any turnovers.  It was, by far, his best night in Black and Gold, and seemed to show the way for repeat performances into the future.

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