Born into old Arizona-UNLV basketball rivalry, Dedan Thomas Jr., attracting UA’s recruiting attention | Arizona Wildcats basketball

Despite the nickname “Midnight Lute” slapped on by former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian decades ago, allegedly snatching top-ranking recruit Tom Tolbert from his hands at the last minute, Lute Olson has occasionally watched things go in the opposite direction.

At least Thomas Jr.’s worms will ensure that. He says his father, Worm Thomas, actually committed to Olson in Arizona, then decided instead to play a major role in UNLV’s final Tarkanian teams in the early 1990s.

It was the kind of story that was so typical of the heated rivalry between two college coaching legends, the kind that Thomas Jr. has heard so much about.

“All the time,” said Thomas. “Every time I see one of my dad’s old friends, they’d tell me about it.”

Three decades later, Worm Thomas Jr. was recruited by both UNLV and Arizona, among other schools, and on Monday received a scholarship offer from the Wildcats.

Thomas, the 5-foot-11 guard from the 2024 class for Liberty High School in Henderson, Nevada, caught the attention of the UA coaches while playing Division 7 at Glendale’s State Farm this past weekend.

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Houston may be driving a wedge into a potential fight with Arizona and UNLV. Thomas said LSU, BYU and Washington State are among those who have shown interest while noting that he has already made unofficial visits to UNLV, Arizona and Houston.

“When it comes time to choose a school, I just feel like I need to be in a place where I feel at home, and feel comfortable with my situation and living conditions,” Thomas Jr. said. family.”

Having built a reputation for selectively providing scholarships only under coach Tommy Lloyd, the Arizona coaches graded Thomas and several other four-star guards off a 2024-point score at a Division 7 event this past weekend in Glendale.

Others that caught the eye of UA were Zoom Diallo of Curtis Senior High School in Tacoma, Washington, and John “Johnny” Mobley Jr. of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas.

Both also have noteworthy surnames: Diallo’s name is actually a shortened version of Fazumana—”a lot of people grew up not knowing how to say my name,” he said—while “Johnny” is a reference to Mobley’s mother in Puerto Rican roots.

On the court, Diallo is a 6-foot-3, 180-pound guard who led Curtis to the Washington 4A title in February and expressed his delight to play against top teams and high school players in other states in Division 7.

“I wanted to challenge myself, try to keep up and guard them,” Diallo said. “Because when I get to the next level, I will be such good and talented guards. You have to play hard and make a statement against this kind of player.”

Diallo said a lot of schools contacted him as of last Wednesday, where coaches on the first day can directly call or text high school juniors, noting that Arizona, UCLA, Oklahoma, Stanford, Washington and Washington State have shown interest in the matter. .

Mobley 5-11 said he’s heard from schools like Arizona, California State University, UCLA, Ohio State and Missouri. Describing himself as a shooter, facilitator and defender, Mobley said he was looking for a style of play that suited him in college.

“I am looking for a good relationship with the coach and the team that fits my game best” in scoring and facilities, Mobley said. One in which he “leads the guards”.

Contact sports reporter Bruce Pascoe at 573-4146 or [email protected] On Twitter @brucepascoe

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