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If Deshaun Thomas is nervous about what the future holds for him, he's not letting it show.
The former Ohio State forward spent the last week in Chicago participating in the NBA Draft Combine, in advance of next month's NBA Draft. Draft analysts and websites currently project Thomas to be an early-mid second round pick, although the 2013 All-Big Ten selection is hopeful that he'll be able to sneak into the draft's first round.
"I believe I can be that late first round pick," Thomas said. "I have confidence. But all I've got to do is keep working. As long as I can feel like when I walk out of that gym that I worked hard, I'll leave it in God's hands and everything will take care of itself."
The difference between being a first and second round selection is a big one in the NBA.
Under the league's current collective bargaining agreement, first round picks are guaranteed at least two seasons of salary. Conversely, teams do not have to guarantee their second round picks any money, although they are allowed to do so. Last year, the final first round pick of the 2012 draft made $1,020,960 in his rookie season, while the first pick of the second round made $575,000.
In an effort to make it into the coveted first round, Thomas has been training in Indianapolis, working on his conditioning, mobility, and of course, shooting. A 19.8 points per game scorer in his junior season at Ohio State, the knock on Thomas is that he lacks a true position in the NBA and the athleticism to defend on the wing.
Measuring in at the combine at 6-foot-7 inches tall and 219.8 pounds, Thomas believes that the work that he's put in since declaring for the draft last month has been paying off and will show in his workouts with teams in the weeks leading up to the draft.
"It's going real well. I've been down in Indianapolis doing my mobility, my flexibility, getting loose and not so tight. It feels great. I've been running real well," Thomas said. "I tried to dunk on somebody, but I ain't done that in a long time. That just lets you know that the hard work and stuff that I've been doing in the offseason and this summer's been paying off."
At his current size, Thomas projects as a small forward in the NBA, although he could see some time at power forward as teams continue to use smaller, more athletic lineups. While some may view he status as a 'tweener' as a question mark, Thomas is confident that he can use his versatility to his advantage at the next level.
"It really don't make a difference," Thomas said when asked what position he'd prefer to play in the NBA. "I'm just going to keep that same mentality, when there's mismatches out there, I'm going to post the little guy up or if it's a big I'm going to go around him."
Known for his smooth shooting stroke and a propensity to take any available shot, Thomas is out to prove that he has more to offer than just being a scorer. By doing that, the Fort Wayne, Ind. native believes that he'll become the eighth Buckeye to be selected in the first round of the draft since Thad Matta took over at Ohio State in 2004, but even if he doesn't, Thomas is confident that he'll make the most of his NBA career.
"Everybody says, 'Yeah, you can bring the scoring but what else can you do?' I can go out there and get the extra points, extra rebounds, extra assists, just the little things. I learned that from playing at Ohio State. It's not all about the scoring. It's all about the effort and doing the little things to help your team win,'' Thomas said. "I'm really not too nervous. The thing is just get in, and go from there and just work and build."
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