|Intro||American basketball player|
|Is||Athlete Basketball player Sports coach Basketball coach|
|From||United States of America Israel|
|Birth||24 February 1971, Chicago, USA|
Deon La velle Thomas (born February 24, 1971) is an American-Israeli former basketball player. As a high school player, he led his team to the Chicago Public League title, and was named Illinois Mr. Basketball. As a college player at the University of Illinois, he finished his career as the all-time leading scorer in Fighting Illini history. Selected by the Dallas Mavericks with the 28th selection of the 1994 NBA Draft, he "opted" to play professional basketball in Europe and Israel.
High school career
Thomas was a star basketball player at Chicago's Neal F. Simeon Vocational High School, graduating in 1989. As a junior in 1988, he led the Wolverines to the Chicago Public League title. As a senior, he was named Illinois Mr. Basketball and played in the McDonald's All-American Game, which also featured future NBA star Shaquille O'Neal.
Thomas played college basketball at the University of Illinois. Thomas finished his career as the all-time leading scorer in Fighting Illini history, with 2129 career points scored and an 18.0 points per game scoring average. Thomas is the only men's basketball player in Illinois history to score at least 2000 career points. Thomas was elected to the "Illini Men's Basketball All-Century Team" in 2004.
Thomas was selected by the Dallas Mavericks with the 28th selection of the 1994 NBA Draft. Thomas attended mini camp but never played in the NBA, having opted to play professional basketball in Europe and Israel. Thomas played two years in Israel for Maccabi Tel Aviv, winning the Israeli championship, the Israeli cup, and the Euroleague championship twice. Thomas didn't play in the 2005 Final Four due to a broken leg. This injury forced him to leave Maccabi Tel Aviv. He then joined the Greek team Gymnastikos S. Larissas, the Bulgarian team CSKA Sofia, and then returned to Israel where he played for Givat Shmuel. He then played for Maccabi Haifa, also in Israel.
He is one of the most successful American pros of all time in the European leagues. Thomas has passed on several opportunities to play in the NBA. On 13 November 2006, in an interview for Bulgarian newspaper Tema Sport and Bulgarian television "Channel 3", Deon Thomas denied any wrongdoing and swore that he didn't receive anything from University of Illinois, as Bruce Pearl had claimed. He said the decision to play for Illinois was made by his grandmother.
In 2009, Thomas became the men's basketball head coach at Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, Illinois. In April 2014, Thomas was named as an assistant basketball coach at the University of Illinois-Chicago. In 2016, he was hired by Fighting Illini Sports Network to call men's basketball games with Doug Altenberger.
Thomas is now an Israeli citizen, and is married to an Israeli.
- 1988 - IHSA 1st Team All-State
- 1988 - IHSA State Tournament All-Tournament Team
- 1989 - IHSA 1st Team All-State
- 1989 - Parade Magazine 1st Team All-American
- 1989 - McDonald's All-American
- 1989 - Illinois Mr. Basketball
- 2015 - Inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association's Hall of Fame as a player.
- 1991 - 3rd Team All-Big Ten
- 1992 - Illini Team Co-Captain
- 1992 - Illini MVP
- 1992 - 2nd Team All-Big Ten
- 1993 - Illini Team Co-Captain
- 1993 - Illini MVP
- 1993 - 2nd Team All-Big Ten
- 1994 - Illini Team Co-Captain
- 1994 - Illini MVP
- 1994 - 2nd Team All-Big Ten
- 1994 - Honorable Mention All American
- 2004 - Elected to the "Illini Men's Basketball All-Century Team".
- 2008 - Honored as one of the thirty-three honored jerseys which hang in the State Farm Center to show regard for being the most decorated basketball players in the University of Illinois' history.
- 2019 - Inducted into the Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame
University of Illinois
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* All-time leader in University of Illinois history