Jasmine Thomas Picks Duke
Oakton senior girls basketball star verbally commits to Blue Devils.
September 7, 2006
The thousands of recruiting letters that have been boxed up and stored at the homes of Oakton senior Jasmine Thomas and her two coaches — Oakton coach Fred Priester and AAU coach Aggie McCormick — can finally be cleaned out. Thomas, one of the most sought-after girls basketball recruits in the nation, told the Connection on Thursday that she has verbally committed to Duke University. Thomas, the three-time Concorde District Player of the Year, three-time Northern Region Player of the Year and the AAA state Player of the Year (2004-2005), gave a smiling sigh of relief as she revealed her choice while sitting on the bleachers of the Oakton High School gymnasium Thursday.
“I trained myself to be open-minded because I was getting offers from the best schools,” said Thomas, who by mid-summer had narrowed her choices to Duke and the University of Virginia. “I had to be open-minded and it was fun because I got relationships with most of [the coaches]. But towards the end, when I was still feeling that Duke was my top school, I was like ‘I can’t keep [waiting]’ because I know that there are people waiting to see where I was going to go so that they could make their decision.”
Over the last three seasons, Thomas has averaged 22.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 4.5 steals per game while leading Oakton to a 74-8 overall record.
The 16-year-old senior called Duke University women’s basketball coach Gail Goestenkors on Wednesday at 1 p.m. from Priester’s office.
“Coach Gail was so excited because I have been telling everyone where they stood in the lineup and she always knew she was first. But it always made her nervous,” said Thomas.
According to both Priester and Thomas, Duke has been the program that has been there “from the beginning,” said Priester. “That played a big part in [the decision]. I think [Jasmine] was in a great situation in terms of having some really awesome choices. She had four ‘Final-Four’ teams coming at her ears. She was in a situation where she could not lose.”
THOMAS, WHO ENTERED Oakton in her freshman year as a preseason All-American, will join a Blue Devils squad that has established itself as a threat in the Atlantic Coast Conference and as a top competitor nationally.
Goestenkors, who has spent 14 seasons elevating the Duke women’s basketball program from obscurity to national prominence, has been named the ACC coach of the year six times. She led the Blue Devils to the NCAA tournament championship game this past season – a game they lost to Maryland. Before leaving this summer to polish her skills at the Nike Girls Skills Academy — a camp that welcomes only the top 21 players from the country to Nike World headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. — Thomas named her top five schools as Duke, Maryland, Connecticut, Virginia and Louisiana State University.
Near the end of August, Thomas shut herself off from the recruiting calls, letters and visits and “went with my gut,” she said. “It was always a gut feeling.” Thomas, who has made visits to Duke twice, also noted that she wanted to stay close to home.
“Duke’s not too far,” she said of the Durham, N.C. campus.
The 5-foot-9 guard, who has played several positions for Oakton, noted that she will work on ball-handling, three-point shooting and defense because “They recruited me as a point guard,” said Thomas. “I have been told I need to shoot more ‘threes,’” she added.
IN HER HIGH school career, Thomas has tallied 40 double-doubles, three triple-doubles and has set Oakton records for points in a game (34), season points (650), career points (1,817), assists in a game (12), steals in a game (11), and rebounds in a game (16).
According to the Virginia High School League record book, Thomas is currently
1,473 points from tying 1993 Phoebus graduate LaKeisha Frett's state career scoring record (3,290), but only 647 points from passing 1996 Madison graduate Katie Smrcka-Duffy, who is second on that list with 2,463 career points. Over the last three seasons, Thomas, who has averaged 605.6 total points per season, is considered one of the region's more accurate jump-shooters and has recorded a 52-percent field goal percentage and has shot 31-percent from the 3-point line. She took Oakton to the state tournament as a sophomore before leading the Cougars to a 25-1 record last season.