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Thomas a wonder of a Wildcat

Put her in almost any position, or on almost any team, and Sthefany Thomas can make magic happen.

By IZZY GOULD
Published March 26, 2006


WESLEY CHAPEL - No girls basketball player in Pasco County has more pressure to deliver than Sthefany Thomas.

Wesley Chapel invests its faith in the girl who can seemingly do it all. Heavyweight college programs are taking notes.

Thomas led the county in scoring with 25 points per game. She also averaged seven rebounds and five steals while carrying the Wildcats to their first district title and a school-record 21 wins.

This summer should define her high school career. Thomas will play with her native Argentina in the Junior Olympics. She also is a member of the AAU Orlando Comets, a nationally ranked team and defending 2005 16-and-under state champions.

If that's not enough, Wesley Chapel plans to participate in a summer tournament in Miami.

Playing for three teams should give Thomas enough exposure and colleges plenty of opportunities to decide if they should make an offer to the 5-foot-10 combo guard.

"Sometimes it gets hard to adapt to different teams," Thomas said. "High school doesn't have as much competition as the Junior Olympics and AAU, so it's hard to adapt to different levels. It's fun. It's a different experience."

Thomas has offers from Temple, Ohio State, Florida and Georgia Tech. She lists Temple, Ohio State and Michigan State as her top three choices, though the Spartans have not offered.

Temple coach Dawn Staley attended one of Thomas' games in December.

Coaches are captivated by her ability to play three positions, her ability to defend and score.

"She's a great player," Gulf coach Mike Quarto said. "She's fundamentally one of the most sound kids you'll find at the high school level.

"She's one of the most complete players I've ever seen at this level."

Wesley Chapel coach Warren Jones relied on Thomas not only as the point guard, but as his floor leader. Thomas was responsible for conveying Jones' message and helping teach fundamentals and strategy.

"Since she is my best player, we have one-on-one discussions on some of the things I would like to see from her on the court, how she can make her teammates better and some things she should focus on," Jones said. "She always delivers. That always helps the team."

Thomas' other teams provide a bit of a break from being the focal point.

In a perfect world, Thomas will find the school of her choice this summer, get a scholarship offer and accept before her senior season. That should clear her plate for a somewhat stress-free senior year.

"She's going to have a busy summer," Jones said. "It's going to be great for her."

--Contact Izzy Gould at 813 909-4612 or at sportsjournalist@gmail.com

[Last modified March 26, 2006, 00:26:15]


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